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Monday, December 29, 2008

Dumpage

Somewhere amidst the constant "go" in our lives is a blog post or two. I know there is. I just have so little time to pause and reflect these days. I'm tired a lot and busy a lot. And yet, it just seems there is not a tangible lot to show for it all. Today was a fine example. I'm showered and dressed and ready to face the day by 8 am and standing out in the yard by 8:01 am waiting for the fur-child to poop. Thankfully it is Spring in December right now and reached nearly 60 degrees today. A week or so ago windchills were in the negatives and I was dressing the dog in fleece and myself in anything and everything warm that I could find, and begging the fur-child to do his business super fast. As in, POOP ALREADY, wouldya??!!!

By the time I come back inside, the boy-child has finally stopped whining about wanting his daddy and accepted the fact that Daddy is at work. I have him dressed by 8:20 am and the girl-child is dressed by 8:30 am, and I am frying "white and yellow" eggs for the boy-child, who will not eat "cheesy eggs" (scrambled with cheese), which happens to be the only kind of eggs the girl-child will eat. I make a mental note, for the eleventy-seventh time to buy another small skillet at the Stuff Mart today so that I can multi-task even more and make two different kinds of eggs at the same time. The boy-child is famished and has talked me into bringing him cereal while his eggs are cooking. And "bread" (not toast, mind you...and no butter either--just bread). And yogurt with blueberries. All the girl-child will eat is Rice Krispies, and I have to manipulate her into eating some yogurt before I will allow her the second bowl of cereal. Meanwhile, I am scoping the grocery ads. It's THAT day today. We are all kinds of off-schedule with the holidays.

I'm checking for great deals at all the area stores and making my list. The Stuff Mart price-matches, after all. Then I'm thumbing through the coupons. I pull out about 100 outdated ones. I typically have $20 in coupons to use per visit. I haven't done my job for a week or two and the coupon collection looks a bit thin. ...pause to flip an egg and pour another bowl of cereal. It's pushing 9:00. I can't find Dear Son's favorite cup despite a brief canvass of the entire premises. Son is whining in the background that he wants his "blat cup!" which means he will settle for none other than his black Klean Kanteen. I'm at a loss, and so I do what I frequently do when I can't find stuff: I call Dear Husband. He suggests the cup is still in the family mobile after coming home from Grandma's birthday party last night.

I almost have my list ready and coupons are scattered everywhere when the phone rings. It's 9:15 am now and it's my secretary. I have a message to call back the psychiatrist that is treating one of my more crazy clients in an inpatient hospitalization. I ordered this patient back to the hospital ten days ago because she wanted to kill herself again. The kids are now done with breakfast and it looks as if the entire kitchen has exploded. I send Dear Daughter to brush her teeth while I search for a washcloth to wipe the blueberries off Dear Son. I make the quick decision to call the psychiatrist back immediately. If I don't do it now, I will be busy and distracted until 5:00 pm at which time I will realize that it's too late. I park the kids in front of the t.v. and admonish them that they better keep quiet while I'm on the phone or there will be heck to pay. It's amazing how they can turn into demon-kids the second I get on the phone--especially if it is a work related call. They are amazingly obediant and allow me a good 15 minute phone chat with the psychiatrist. We agree on a game plan for the release tomorrow morning of said patient.

Now I'm running way behind. The kitchen is still inside out, I have to figure out how to fit twenty tons of recycling in the family mobile before we can pull out of the driveway, Dear Son needs my constant supervision and assitance to brush his teeth and go potty, the dog needs to go potty again too, because he never went the first time, and despite Dear Daughter claiming to have brushed her hair, it looks like she took an egg beater to it. It's 9:45.

I put the dog out on his lead in the yard while I brush Son's teeth and help him elminate in his Peter Potty. I give the kids the choice to finish watching their t.v. show or play in the yard with the pup while I attempt to fit the recycling tonnage in the family mobile. The more I pull out of the garage, the more I find. I keep shoving, and shoving, and shoving, I pray for the sake of all that is good and holy that the recycling center is open today or I will not be able to fit the groceries in the car.

Dog in, kids out...after the whole jacket and shoes ordeal (that's an entirely separate post). 10:20 am and we are finally on our way. Bank deposit first, followed by brief meltdowns that the teller at the drive up didn't offer a lollipop. I pull a couple from my secret stash in the car to keep the monsters quiet. It works like a charm through the entire recycling ordeal. The parking lot is crammed. Everyone who lives in a 20 mile radius is parting with their Christmas trash. I wiggle into the fold like a piggy at the trough and proceed to part with my own Christmas trash. Thankfully there are two cardboard dumpsters now, though the paper dumpster was packed to the brim. I stuff and stuff and stuff handful by handful. There was no way I'm dragging this crap back home again. Apparently I wasn't the first to come along with that attitude. By some miracle I get every last bit shoved in.

It's nearly 11:20 and we've just reached the front doors of the Stuff Mart. It takes a ridiculous amount of time to do the shopping deed. It always does with the kids in tow. The next hour and a half is filled with bickering and arguing and bribing and scolding. Two different people comment how well-behaved my kids are during the entire ordeal. Each of these people happened upon us during the only two moments the monsters shut up and quit antagonizing each other and myself.

We make it through somehow and I pile the stuff in the family mobile next to the recycling bins, thinking of how we will consume it all and discard the wrappings, and in a couple weeks I'll be packing more crap into the family mobile to recycle again. I try not to pause too long on the futility of it all, lest I find myself in a full blown depressive episode.

It's nearly 1:30 and I have groceries to unpack and lunch to prepare and a dog to take out (he STILL didn't go) before I can get the boy-child to bed for a nap. He is exhausted, as am I--only I know I won't be getting any naps and I'm only hopeful that he will. He is not fun to be around when he's tired and cranky, and even less fun to be around when BOTH of us are tired and cranky.

At 2:30 lunch is done, most of the groceries are put away, half the dishwasher is unloaded, and the kids' lunch dishes are still on the table. I have to take the pup out again--he STILL hasn't done his thing. The kids don their shoes and jackets and come out with me again. This time the pup does his thing in relatively short order. I hand the leash to Daughter while I assemble the new single-handed super dooper pooper scooper I just purchased at the Stuff Mart. The kids and I go on a turd hunt. I know he did it near the Tulip Tree somewhere. Despite the five acres of yard, I know the approximately 20 foot radius where the poop occured. I think. I warn the kids to step very carefully so they don't land their feet in the poop, only to have Dear Son point out to me the squished poop pile. Too late. I angrily ask which of them stepped in it only to discover it on my own shoe. I use the super duper pooper scooper anyhow and discovered it does well even with squished turds.

By about 3:15 we are finally in Dear Son's room to read a couple books. Lights out at 3:30 followed by thirty minutes of non-stop begging and pleading to "get up." I don't allow it. I lie next to him wishing he'd quit waking me up with his nagging so I could get a little cat nap myself. He finally falls asleep, but I'm wide awake with all the stuff in my head that I need to get done in the next hour and 45 minutes before I have to leave for work. It's 4:00.

I take a twenty minute breather next to my daughter on the couch who has found the t.v. again. After vegging for 20 minutes I allow myself to notice the disaster that surrounds me. Puzzles, games, toys, dolls, transformers, dog toys, and more litter the living room. Christmas was just the other day, after all. In the next room I can still smell the remains of breakfast, and now lunch. The task appears daunting, and I yawn before getting up to strip the king size log bed and throw the sheets in the wash. It was a chore I never got done over the weekend. It's getting chilly in the house and so I start a fire in the stove. Dear Son wakes up from his nap extremely grouchy and insists I hold him. It's 5:15. I leave for work in 30 minutes. I'm not dressed for work yet and my own hair now looks like I brushed it with an egg beater. I manage to correct these issues all while holding my fussing 35 pound just-turned-three-year-old, and I still have 15 minutes to spare. Good thing "messy" is in as far as hair goes. Mine is right in style.

The dog wants to go out again and Dear Daughter wants to play outside before it's dark. She keeps asking if it's Spring and apparently doesn't believe me each time that I tell her no, and that acually Winter just officialy began a few days ago. We all go outside until Dear Husband arrives home just in time for me to leave. I have two sessions scheduled tonight. It's 5:45.

I make it back home at 8:10. Dear Daughter is parading around the house buck naked after her bath (when exactly does modesty set in, anyway?) I change my clothes and put clean sheets on the log bed while I wait for Daughter to get dressed.

By 9:30 the kids are tucked in and I survey the house. Kitchen is still a mess. Dishwasher is still half loaded and half unlaoded. Puzzles, games, dog toys and the like are still strewn all over the living room. Various holiday messes STILL linger about the house. I have a long day tomorrow. Two sessions before lunch, then just enough of a lunch break to come home to let the dog out (I'm seeing theme here) followed by seven more sessions, all back to back over the next seven hours. All in all, I will deliver the kids to Grandma's tomorrow and do nine sessions before I return home to tuck the kids in bed. The house will really stink by then, as I will have another round of breakfast remains to clean up by then.

I'm too tired to care any more tonight. Good thing we are on break from school. I'm not sure where I would fit in the homeschooling right now. Despite not doing school today, I reflect on the feeling that it sure seems like I did a lot today. And yet, a quick glance around my home would argue otherwise.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cooper

I can't really explain it...I think I can attribute it to stress...I'm not thinking clearly...I've gone a little too loose in the noggin...I convinced my family to adopt a puppy. And voila! We are now proud owners of Cooper.

I can think of hundreds of reasons why owning a dog is not a good idea. I can also think of at least a few reasons why it is a good idea. I CANNOT explain why I wanted a dog. Those that know me well are aware of my past love affair with a couple cats. One in particular, Frederick, who stole my heart for 19 1/2 years. Losing him a couple years ago was beyond traumatic. I thought I would NEVER invite a pet into my heart again after that. I also got very busy with this parenting two kids thing, and the last thing I was interested in was managing a pet in addition to a 10 month old and a just turned three year old.

Fast forward to the past several weeks. The kids have been infatuated with kitties and puppies. Husband wanted a kitten...if we were going to talk pets, that is. Having been a cat person for the whole of my adult years, I'd never before considered owning a dog. So why the interest in a puppy? I can't explain it. I do know that I wanted nothing to do with cat litter again after spending nearly 20 years of my life dealing with it. I also dreamed of having a companion my kids could enjoy running around with outdoors and who was a bit more interactive. And besides, we DO have five acres to share with a pup. Yes, I know dogs are much higher maintenance. Yes, I thought long and hard about it. Yes, while I am a very responsible adult, I am still not positive a dog was the right choice.

Nonetheless, we accepted him into our home--Cooper, who is a bit of a castaway. We did not buy him from a high dollar breeder. We intentionally chose a mutt of sorts. I'd much rather rescue a needy soul, but we did want to choose a breed that, with our best guess, would be really good with the kids. I stumbled across someone needing to part with their Boston Terrier/Boxer mix puppy. Fortunately he was not a newborn puppy. I'm not THAT insane. Cooper is about 8 months old, and very charming. While Dear Husband gave into my whims for a pup this time, I think he got his part of the bargain fulfilled as well. Cooper, so far, seems to act more like a cat than a pup. He is extremely laid back and doesn't do much more than lie around and warm our laps. We haven't had the chance to "frisk him up" outdoors as it was 18 degrees today. Cooper is doing great with going potty outdoors and has not had a single accident indoors, but it is pitiful. He barely has any fur to keep him warm, and it is quite clear that he does NOT tolerate the cold weather well. He shivers uncontrollably outdoors in the biting wind. So I took pity on him and made him a little fleece jacket to wear outdoors. I'll have to post a picture of that later.

The kids adore him, although Dear Daughter confessed to having hoped for a puppy who would play "fetch" with her. I am hopeful that this extremely docile doggy will have some spirit and animation after he adjusts to this change in his life. I'm beginning to wonder if he thinks he's supposed to hibernate during the winter. He has slept the whole day away.

He only spent a month in his previous home, and before that he was apparently an indoor doggy until his owners had to be away from home too many hours and locked him in the shed outdoors before they finally pawned him off to a friend's home and then several weeks later to our home. So his life has been turned upside down quite a bit in his few short months. I would much rather have a docile, laid back puppy than one who is too hyper and destructive, but I'm beginning to wonder if we went too far in the "right" direction with this little guy.

Yes, Cooper IS wearing a sweatshirt in the above picture. That just goes to show how laid back he is. And besides, it was REALLY cold today! Who can argue with a high of 18 and a low of 4?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Three of the Best Years Yet!

I can't really explain where I've been lately, because it's all been a blur, and quite frankly I don't remember anyway.

BUT...I do know that since my last post we have put up the Christmas tree, a specimen that is more attractive than last year's, I have baked some Christmas cookies with the wee ones, and we have celebrated my second born's third birthday. And yet, if I thought the past several months have been a blur, I can't even begin to explain what happened to the past three years.

On the eve of my second born's birthday anniversary I reminisced the hellish experience of nine months of pregnancy during which my body packed on an extra 50 pounds, I got an average of two hours of sleep per night, and I sweated non-stop like a fat man in a sauna (even when it was 10 degrees outside). I also experienced the typical flashback memories of the three days of excruciating labor pain and three sleepless nights I endured followed by the final decision of my doc at 2:30 in the morning that my boy-child must be born via the "slice and dice" method after all. Turns out his nine pound 23 inch body was too big to enter the world the way nature intended. I began to have PTSD reactions in memory of my first c-section experience as I was wheeled down the hall to the OR. Both my husband and my mother had been at my side for every minute, but now I was alone as the ceiling tiles whizzed past me overhead. They would join me again shortly dressed in OR garbs complete with funny shower cap looking hats and shoe booties. Then I overheard my doc talking with my mom (who is a labor and delivery nurse in the same hospital) about perhaps knocking me out with a general anesthetic as there may not be time to numb me up well enough for surgery. We were waiting on the anesthesiologist to arrive, but couldn't wait any longer. My son needed to enter the world quickly.

The anesthesiologist arrived just in time and drugged me up nicely for surgery. He was attentive to my anxiety and gave me an extra little "cocktail" in my IV to help manage that. Meanwhile, I was trying to hum myself into oblivion, but it wasn't working. I couldn't remember how any tunes went, so it was just random humming fueled by nervous energy. My son came out squealing and the medical staff squealed with him with cries of how big he was. The process of stitching me back up was long one punctuated with narration from my doc about nicking my bladder during the surgery and adding another stitch to manage that, and how the scar tissue from the previous c-section slowed the stitching process. Then the flipping and twisting and turning of my body while I was numb to my neck and unable to move. I remember being turned and left a few minutes to stare at the bucket of blood that was apparently suctioned from my body. It was a nice final touch to the whole ordeal.

Then to recovery. Alone. Dear Husband went home to take a nap and tend to Dear Daughter, who was 2 1/2 at the time, and I waited for the screaming bundle to be returned to me following his bath so that I could try to forget the fact that I had been sliced across my middle an hour previously and that my body was still numb from the chest down and I still could not move my legs. The exhaustion was so intense that that alone gave me the urge to have to throw up. Somehow I had to nurse my newborn and change his runny diapers despite my own misery.

I then traversed some memories of the lasting pregnancy battle scars that are my forever evidence of what I endured to give this child of mine life. These include the extra ten pounds that have never come off, probably due at least in part to the hypothyroidism this pregnancy also left me with, and the other ongoing hormonal imbalances of too little progesterone and too much prolactin. The only good news as far as physical scars go, is that I escaped it all without a single stretch mark. Not that I'm sexy enough to sport a bikini or anything like that, so it's not much to brag on.

But the best evidence of this whole experience is the sweet boy-child that I have the privilege of holding in my arms every day. The child who tells me sweetly how beautiful he thinks I am and who tells me, "Mommy, I love you!" and offers me kisses for no particular reason. The child whose impish chubby face I wake up to every morning because he still insists on climbing into our bed in the wee hours every morning. The child whom I can't imagine my world existing without, and the child who was worth every bit of the challenge and trauma I endured to get him here. He is healthy and happy, and I'm blessed beyond words. He is infatuated with superheros (especially Spiderman and Ironman) and guns and robots. He is all boy and makes a great contrast to his Princess of a big sister.

I don't know if my wee-est child still qualifies as a "baby," but I've a feeling he'll remain my "baby" even as he turns thirty someday. He pined for a Darth Vader birthday party this year because he developed a mysterious infatuation with the character several weeks ago. And so we indulged him. We enjoyed having Grandpa and Grandma H and Great Uncle Ron and Great Aunt Pat help make it special. While we wish we could have included Grandpa and Grandma M and my children's cousins, whom they've never met, we are well aware that Oregon is a very long way away.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy! Thanks for being mine!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Balancing Half-Assed-Ness with Whole-Hearted-Ness

I'm not a half-assed sort of person. I tend to endorse the ideal that anything worth doing is worth doing well, or right, or whatever fits the circumstance. However, I fear my blog has become half-assed. I've hung in there, and I will continue to. But I can't keep up with the few bloggers I read semi-regularly. I say semi-regularly because I just don't have the time to read anyone regularly (every single post). I have several blogging friends that are most definitely not half-assed with their blogging endeavers. They write a dozen posts for every one of my own. They comment prolifically at other people's places. I just can't do that. I barely keep my head above water homeschooling my kids, managing my part-time career as a pychotherapist, and keeping the funky smell in my house at bay when the dirty dishes and dirty laundry stack up. I'm haunted by memories of my friends' comments when we were all in our mid-twenties. They all had kids; I did not. They would come to my house and gasp incredulously as to how CLEAN my house was. Now I get it. Now I have kids, too!

I succombed to peer pressure recently to join Facebook, and the experience is much the same. I just don't have time to research the dark alleys of my past to find old friends or to keep up with communicating with all of them. I also don't have time to post several times a day to any cyberaudience about what I am doing at whatever given moment. Nor do I have time to read logs of other cyber personalites' postings about what they are doing at whatever random moments. So I guess I'm also a half-assed Facebooker. So what?

Don't misunderstand me. If you are a prolifc blogger or a prolific Facebooker, I don't look down on you or make any assumptions. That's your business and your life to lead. As for myself, as long as I can manage to be wholehearted in the things that are bigger priorities in my life, I can accept that half-assed-ness in these other areas doesn't win me any cyber-popularity contests.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pre-requisites?

We began reading A Child's Introduction to World History tonight and discussed some history of Mesopotamia and the location of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. We also read about the explorations of Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan. Dear Daughter listened with intent fascination. At the end she excitedly asked, "Can I be an explorer some day, Mommy?" I responded as I always do to my precocious child--the same way I responded to her aspirations to become an astronaut when she was not quite three, and a deep sea diver when she was just over three, and then to do both simultaneously when she was three and one half--"Sure, Sweetie! You can do anything you want to do with your life!"

Her face looked puzzled tonight as she contemplated the implications of being an explorer. She was truly concerned about whether she met the "pre-requisites" when she asked next, "But...is my name long enough?"

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Xanax, Please!

As you can see, I've been updating stuff around here. It's still not the way I really want it to be, but I'm kinda stoopid when it comes to web design and html. I have to say, though, that I began this blog four years ago, and four years ago Blogger was NOT as user friendly as it is today. Therefore, back when I started this gig, I didn't too bad to figure out some of the stuff I figured out. After all that figuring out I did back then, I was afraid to change anything and mess it all up, and so I never updated. I got brave the other night, am I'm glad I did. Now Blogger gives you all these easy to use tools that didn't exist four years ago. You used to have to manually make all those changes in your html template.

In other news, my Dear Daughter has apparently reached a new rite of passage, and one that I am truly not ready for yet. As I helped her finish brushing her teeth the other night, I discovered that she has a permanent tooth pushing through her gums right behind the baby tooth on the lower front. I freaked out a bit, and this did not seem right to me. You will remember that not quite a year ago we had the shock of discovering that Daughter was hiding an extra tooth in her upper jaw that would have to be surgically removed. It was a tad traumatic for me, and the attached price tag was not an easy thing to accept either, so perhaps my freak out was justified. Let me further justify by stating that Dear Husband has a colleague whose daughter (a couple years older than my Dear Daughter) recently had NINE teeth pulled for what would seem to be the same issue. My friend, who is a pediatric dentist, thought my freak out was over the top. Despite his reassurance that this is no cause for alarm, I still contacted Daughter's dental clinic immediately the next morning, and the receptionist calmly asked me if my daughter's tooth--the on in front of the permanent one coming in--was loose. "Well, I don't know...." I responded rather stoopidly. It hadn't occured to me to check. She waited patiently for me to clear away the Life cereal my daughter was eating and wiggle her front teeth. "Why yes, it does appear a little loose." I responded to her feeling a little silly as I anticipated where this was going. The receptionist giggled a bit and informed me that she expected the tooth fairy was coming soon. I argued that my daughter is barely five years old, and she reassured me there is a pretty wide window for what's normal in the way of loosing primary teeth.

Okay then. Works for me. I don't need more dental worries or dental bills right now. Meanwhile, however, that front tooth hasn't fallen out yet and is barely noticably loose when you try to wiggle the thing, and that permenet tooth is coming in rapidly. I fear she will look a little freaky if that tooth doesn't find its way out of her mouth sooner than later. At the same time, I am really NOT ready for my firstborn to begin losing her little girl teeth. Next thing you know I'll be buying her a traning bra. Lord, help me!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

...in the eye of the beholder

I dressed for work in the closet off the master bathroom in the same manner that I get dressed everyday regardless of where I am going, or if I'm not even going anywhere at all. I exited the closet and made my way through the master bathroom (because that happens to be the layout of our home), and passed Dear Son on the way. He had just awakened from his nap and was being my shadow, following me wherever I went. He waited, however, by the double vanity while I dressed myself in the closet, and then he watched as I passed by him in the bathroom and stated, "You look beautiful, Mommy!" in his sweetest little almost-three-year-old voice. I barely finished informing him of his sweetness when he added a little more sugar with, "You always look pretty, Mommy."

And this took the edge off his big sister's sentiments a few days ago that she was going to be sure to eat more spinach so that she wouldn't start looking like Mommy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Stoopid Holiday


If you've read me for long, you already know my feelings about Halloween. Nonetheless, the kiddos, for some very mysterious reason, are fans. So I got over myself, stuffed my own opinions, and indulged them.

Thank God that's over for another year.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Don't Box Me In!

I'm back from "the ledge," but we'll see if my blood pressure thinks so. I get it checked again tomorrow after registering 186 last week. A little chainsaw therapy helped this weekend. I was apparently really into what I was doing as I had no idea that Dear Husband took several pictures of me in the act.

As I've described in the past, I like to run the chainsaw and the big ass lawnmower. I also like to drive my Grandpa's 1967 Chevy pickup around our property. It is in its original condition and it has a standard transmission and groans and whines and lurches as we go. Recently, the entire family crammed into the cab--Dear Husband, the two wee ones, and I took the wheel. The kids and I giggled ourselves into tears as we lurched the entire drive to the edge of the woods. Dear Husband was not amused, so I remind him that it was his idea to let me drive.

It turns out that I'm not a very refined person. Yes, I have an advanced degree. Yes, I work a in a very skilled profession. Furthermore I consider myself to be a Christian, but I refuse to be pious. I hate to be stereotyped or shoved in a box, and this may contribute to why I am the way I am.

While I am not one to cuss, I apparently use a few words and phrases that tend to offend some. Personally, I am amused that the things I say would offend given that the "f word" is not a part of my routine vernacular, and other than that the most colorful I get would be an occasional "damn" or "shit" if I'm really tweaked about something. It certainly isn't every day and prolly not even once a month that one of those words slips my tongue. However, I have been known to utter words like "ass" (which I didn't even know was a cuss word) or "crap," or phrases like "pissed off!" which I also didn't know some people loosely categorize as cussing.

I learned that some consider "ass" as a cuss word when I was teaching freshman / sophomore psychology at the local Christian University as an adjunct professor several years ago. A student complained on their evaluation form at the end of the term that I cussed in class. I was thoroughly puzzled until I finally remembered a particular lecture that included a real life example of a child I was seeing for therapy whose father was a pedophile and who had sexually abused this child. I made some comment regarding the formal questioning of this creep in determining if he were guilty or not of the crime. I think the comment was something like, "What I really wanted to do was nail his ass to the wall!" What's the big deal? He's a pedophile! I think "ass" is a pretty mild reference to make! Nonetheless, I took the initiative to discuss the incident with my department chair, who never questioned me at all and who simply suggested that some would consider "ass" crude vernacular but that is also dependent on which part of the country you live in (he is a social psychologist). I was never chastised for it, and I continued to be asked back to teach. I also continued casual use of the word "ass"--just not in my classes anymore.

A couple weeks ago I had two teachers in my daughter's homeschool co-op class report to me that my darling daughter had gotten angry with the boys in her class that would not share toys with her and said something like, "These boys are just really pissing me off!" Yes, it's a Christian co-op, but I honestly didn't think this was such a big deal. I guess I don't think saying or even being "pissed off" is "un-Christian," and if it is, you better just count me out now. Don't forget how Jesus threw over the tables of the moneychangers in the synagogue. I think it is fair to say He was a little pissed off!

At any rate, my daughter was asked to use better words to express her feelings, and she rephrased it as, "I'm am feeling really frustrated with these boys!" Okay, I agree, the second option is a bit more classy and mature. Whatever.

I dare say that I also don't find "crap" that offensive. My casual use of this word was also reflected the other day when I was excited over my idea to teach my children to make paper hats. I thought this would be fun, and so I looked up a quick how-to online and found instructions complete with step by step photos. Dear Daughter couldn't wait to see the pics I pulled up on the computer, so I left her to study them while I headed to the wood pile to gather some fuel to stoke up the fire before we got started on the hat project. Dear Daughter met me at the back door where I was heading back in with my arms full of wood. Her face was a bit long as she stated that these hats were not what she was expecting. I asked her what she was expecting, and she replied, "Well, it's just that these hats are going to look like crap!" Apparently I should have asked her to rephrase how she felt about this, but instead I just busted up laughing.

In summary, I've been really pissed off at how the election went, and I think we're in for a heap of crap the next four years. However, dwelling on this concept while trying to deal with numerous other stressors in my life right now is only raising my blood pressure. So I decided to work my ass off today to vent some steam.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Un-popular Opinion

It's not popular to be a Republican these days. I frequently find myself in the minority with my political views, my values and my morals. And my lack of excitement over our newly elected president. While the concept that our country has elected its first bi-racial leader is awe inspiring given the fact that it was such a short time ago that black people were so oppressed in our nation, I am inspired in concept alone, and not at all by this particular man. Honestly, I am horrified at what I see transpiring in this nation.

I found myself engaged in a political discussion with a colleague the other day and was shocked at the entire conversation. Okay, so she's a die-hard Democrat, but I really try not to stereotype. I don't like to be stereotyped either. So I tried to keep an open mind. In the end I was still sick to my stomach. I indicated that I was not a supporter of abortion, especially partial birth abortion. She did not minimize the facts that this "procedure" results in babies being dismembered as they are pulled piece by piece out of their mother's wombs, followed by being stabbed in the skull as they scream their passage from life to death without ever being given the right to life in the first place. She defended her own defense of this murderous act with statements that women are going to use rusty coat hangers to abort their babies, so it makes sense to legalize it since they are going to do it anyway. Really? It really makes sense to legalize this heinous and uncivilized and inexcusable act because...because people are going to do it anyway? Well, ya know what... people also going to rob, and rape, kill in cold blood, prostitue and rape children, and any number of other acts we fortunatly still still label as crimes in this country. But since they're going to do it anyway, shouldn't we just make it all legal?

She also endorsed the idea of making prostitution legal. After all, what's the big deal if someone wants to pay for sex? And apparently we also need to legalize pot. I suggested perhaps we should also legalize meth, I mean, people are going to do that too, so why not just make it legal? "Freedom of choice and free speech," she asserted. Yes, yes...why not? YES WE CAN! for God's sake. I mean why the hell shouldn't we as a group just freely be able to make whatever choices we want regardless of whether it involves violence, murder, drugs, sex, you name it? Why not? Really. Why not?

Here's why I think not: Because I also have a dream for my country. It's a dream that we can co-exist as CIVILZED PEOPLE, and a people with VALUES, MORALS, RESPECT for one another and for the sanctity of LIFE ITSELF, and that those who do not act civilized are not allowed to destroy the fabric of our country. I have a dream that I can work my tail off and reap the rewards of my work. That if I work hard, I will prosper. Not that if I work hard I can foot even more of the bill for those who do NOT work hard. That I can access quality healthcare and obtain it from a competitive resource. That I can educate my children the way I see fit and that if I do NOT want my Kindergartner taught about sex when she is only FIVE YEARS OLD that I do not have to expose her to it, and that I most certainly do NOT need to expose her to ideals that I do not believe in. That I can teach my children creationism and when they are old enough I can teach them about sex and to wait to engage in it until they are married. That I can teach them at home if I feel I can do a better job than the government can. I have a dream to live in a country where I DO have freedoms and that they are freedoms that lead to propserity in the quality of my life, my relationships, my health, and my finances.

It may be a dream, but I do not truly hold a hope for that in this particular lifetime. I know it is not going to happen and that certainly our new presidential elect, with the platform he endorses, will not bring us any closer to this dream. I know our only real hope is for our real savior to come and save His people from a world spinning out of control. Maybe for the majority of our nation, Barack Obama is that savior, but he sure as goodenss isn't mine.

You can call me a lunatic if you will, but I most certainly am not as looney as the ones who call Obama "The One" and who look to him to fill their gas tanks and pay their mortgages and who look upon him with belief that he has now arrived, "The Chosen One" who will save us. The one who has expressed no patriotism or loyalty to our nation, who has made innummerous lofty promises of how he is going to smooth talk our way out of war and terrorism and pave the way for our country back into prosperity and essentially "fix" all our problems.

While the rest of the nation swoons, I've got my head in the toilet because I'm gagging on the thick sappy syrup that mesmorizes some, but only leaves me throwing up.

I don't want any comments on this particular post. If you know me and want to comment, you know how to to find me. Otherwise, this is my rant on my blog and you don't have to agree with me. Feel free to write your own blog about your own views. God knows I've read plenty of them already. I already know I'm not expressing popular opinion, and I'm not interested in any more debates at this time.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Public Display

Don't ask me WHY I felt like running all over the city doing errands with the kids today. Today...FRIDAY...my ONLY weekday in which I do not keep any professional appointments in my office. But this is what I felt like doing, and so it is what I did.

I dressed the wee ones up on their matching pumpkin sweatshirts (it was Halloween today, after all) and off we went. They were very well behaved and tolerated my shopping in "boring" stores (as my daughter described them). I was looking for wall decor for my new office space at the clinic. As I unbuckled Dear Son from his carseat at about the third stop, he informed me, "I just detting some booders out of my nose." I sarcastically replied that this was "just great" and by the way, what did he do with those "booders?" His response, "I just put them on the floor in the car." Great again. Nonetheless, I was pleased that he got his nose pickin' done before we entered the store.

After the fourth or fifth stop the kids were hungry, and I still had more errands. Dear Son began asking "Tan we det a Happy Meal? PULEEEEZE? Tan we? Tan we?" I decided to indulge them because they had been so good while I shopped.

The lady wearing the McVisor was waiting at the counter when we walked in. I was holding Dear Son on my hip throughout the order process and then sat him on the counter as I dug in my purse for my wallet. He was busy with something, but I didn't pay much attention as I dug for the exact change to give the McVisor lady. That's when Dear Son screamed at the top of his lungs, "Look! Look! I dot a booder! It's a BID one!" and he waved his hand way above his head with a very large, pulsating, dark green booger stuck to the end of his left index finger. The thing was larger than his finger tip. I had to reply in order to get him to stop announcing it over and over and over again. Under my breath, trying NOT to draw any more attention to us, I said in my quietest but most validating voice, "Oh wow! That IS a big one!" as I snuck glances from side to side hoping and praying that no one was watching this event. If a McMeal doesn't turn stomachs on its own right, I'm sure the giant throbbing green booger at the McCounter could.

I, of course, had no tissue or napkin or anything in which to swiftly and casually capture this thing in. A few solutions raced through my mind. I could take it from his finger onto my own, thus ending his wild waving of it above his head, but then what would I do with it? I could wipe his finger on his pants, but the things was soooo large and I figured if someone were already all grossed out watching us, that could seem even grosser. I dared not wipe in on the McCounter, though I didn't figure I would be the first to do so. So I just pulled his little hand down closer to his body to not be quite so obvious about the giant booder. He complied...his little index finger still extended with the green glob on the end of it as he studied it. We made it to the condiment counter and Son continued to examine his treasure until whisked it away with the first napkin I could find. Then I put on my dark glasses and hustled the kids to the darkest and most remote corner in the joint and watched them munch their McBurgers.

I, on the other hand, had lost my appetite.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Project

It started out like this:

Dear Husband: "We really need to install wood heat. The cost of propane is getting outrageous."
Me: "mmmm hmmmmm."

I didn't disagree, I was just too busy with other obligations to put too much serious thought into it. I think I just gave my husband my agreement to do whatever he thought he needed to so that he'd quit talking about it.

Next think I knew, my entryway closet looked like this from the front:


...and like this from the back (which now opens up into our utility room).


That's when I realized he was serious about this thing. Here's the rest of the progression:






















































Apparently the camera didn't come out during the long rocking phase, which is surprising as Husband spent many hours cementing rock up the nine foot wall. There were plenty of opportunities to get pics of that, but I guess we were barely surviving the day to day grind in addition to this project. I guess taking pics wasn't on my "to do list."

And then somewhere along the way, it was done. Just in time to fire it up and enjoy a cozy fire on a cold fall night. And that's when Dear Husband left my closet a gaping hole in the utility room in order to make haste in cutting down all those dead trees in the woods on our property. He estimates we've got enough on our own little acreage to heat us for this season. The only catch is we have to cut it down, drag it out and chop it up. I took my turn with the chainsaw this weekend, and I'm sure I'll get plenty more opportunities. It's a good thing we have all this free time on our hands for projects like installing wood stoves and playing lumberjack (*sarcasm noted).

As for the closet, Dear Husband says that's gonna be a rainy day project. I'm watching the forecast daily, and you better believe that the first sign of rain he better be getting out the crowbar and buying some sheet rock!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Treasured Moments

Time is precious these days. I have less of it to spend with my babies due to some unforeseen circumstances in our lives. I don't like it. I miss my babies. It's ironic considering that not all that long ago I couldn't wait for Dear Husband to get home from work to take the kids off my hands and give me a break from them.

I had the entire morning and afternoon to spend with them today, and I treasured it. I decided to break with the routine (as if there really is a routine these days) and put our usual school work lower on the priority list today. It's a rainy, windy day. I hadn't taken my kids to the library in quite some time as I’d been too busy. I'd exhausted all of my book renewals online while I stalled for the time to return the items in person.

Before we'd even had breakfast this morning, I suggested to the kids that we go to the "big library" where we could check out books and videos and play computer games and run and climb in the "hippo park" (if we didn’t get rained out) and do puzzles and, and, and... Then we would stop for a few groceries, and I would pack the cold items in insulated bags so that we could end our excursion with a Happy Meal. Dear Son loves him a Happy Meal. He can't wait for the toy, which is evidence that McD’s marketing strategies work like a charm.

Before we left the house, I pulled a long sleeve t-shirt out of Dear Daughter's closet. I've begun pulling clothes out of storage from last season as the weather turns colder. Dear Daughter has outgrown most of her wardrobe. I asked her to try on the shirt and expected that her belly would hang out of it like every other shirt I have pulled out of storage this fall. I couldn't help but notice that not only did her belly hang out of her shirt, but her ankles also stuck out of her pant legs. My stomach turned as I saw my baby disappearing before my eyes.

Every once in awhile, as I tote the wee ones around in the family mobile to run errands with me, I peek in the rearview mirror at their charming impish faces, round and baby-ish, and my breath catches in my chest as I feel overwhelmed with how richly my life is blessed. We bounce along the road, their curiously blond little heads swaying with the movement of the vehicle as they stare obliviously out of their respective windows at the scenery. It is all I can do not to impulsively pull over on the shoulder of the road and scoop them into my arm and hold them close.
The library was full of little ones today, all about 1.5 years of age. Some toddled about as if they had just learned to walk yesterday. I watched my Dear Daughter running around them in the Hippo play yard. She was the oldest, by far, among the children playing. I brought her to the same Hippo play yard when she was barely toddling about just as the others were doing today. I was sitting in the very spot on the very bench where I have sat countless times over the past five years. My mind raced with memories as if a movie were playing out in fast forward motion. The images were of Daughter toddling about the play yard uncertainly, requiring my help to pick her up and place her on the hippos to sit, my belly swollen with the impending arrival of her little brother, nursing her little brother discreetly as she climbed and played happily among the hippos. How did those days blur so quickly into where we are today?

Later, as we drove along in the family mobile to get their Happy Meals, the wee ones couldn’t have looked any more pleased with the world. I refused to allow my mind to race five more years into the future and wonder upon how quickly it would go, and yet I felt my eyes grow teary as I thought about my firstborn growing out of her clothing, and my second born forgoing his naps as if he has decided he is too big for this anymore. I ruefully quipped aloud, “My babies are growing up way too fast!” Dear Son never broke his gaze from the window as he quietly responded, “Yes, we are." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry while we drove the rest of the way in bittersweet silence.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Breaking the Silence

I'll break the silence with a couple pics and brief update. This may be the longest I've been absent from blogland since the inception of this blog nearly four years ago. I have good reasons for being absent, but for the most part they are not ones I'm going to share here. I don't typically share really personal stuff here. Well...except that time I had the tirade about the clogged nipple when I was still nursing my baby boy about two and a half years ago.

At any rate, I'll just say that there have been high levels of stress in our household and so I've had other things on my mind and on my "to do" list. Blogging just didn't rank high enough to take precedence. Still doesn't in the bigger picture of things right now, but I fear that if I don't stay at least semi-connected, I'll end up abandoning this blog for good.

I am about to be done with my work at the group home, which simplifies my life. Originally this was supposed to mean that I would also be working less and be home with my kids and family more, but some other bumps in the road are preventing that. Hopefully it will be short lived and I can regain my vision and commitment for my children and family. Meanwhile, one of my teenage girls at the group home talked me into continuing to see her on alternating weeks until she moves on with her life in three more months and emancipates from state custody. This works in my schedule, and due to the long term therapy relationship I've had with her, I let myself be talked into it. The neat thing about this is that this is a girl with whom I've been in the proverbial paper bag for quite a long time. What I mean is that she has had quite the time with therapy and has been among the most resistant of teenage clients with whom I've ever worked. This is a girl that a year and a half ago could not tolerate therapy to such a degree that she was unable to look at me and would spend the entire session belching and passing gas as an avoidance to doing any real work on anything. When we got the bodily functions under control, she would just get up and run out of the therapy room if we got anywhere near a difficult topic for her. Basically, if there were even a hint of tears or emotion that she could not stuff deep down and which threatened to betray her, she would flee the room as fast as she could. Then there was a period of time in which we took a hiatus from one another because after she fled from sessions so many times I told her that I couldn't commit my time for her unless she committed hers to me. I insisted that I would no longer schedule time for her unless she requested it and committed to sitting through sessions in their entirety. And I required her to have this discussion with me face to face. She couldn't tolerate it, so I held her accountable by scheduling her out of my calendar until she could do so. She eventually came back around and requested my time and committed to sitting through the sessions. This move proved to be excellent therapy, as she has never run from the room since, began making eye contact, and now even tolerates discussing tough topics. She has even begun to tolerate therapeutic confrontations from me. This young woman, who has done everything she could think of to be rid of the therapy experience, upon my notice to her a couple weeks ago that I was leaving my work at her group home, practically begged me to keep coming to see her. This was one of those rare moments that make the work I do with teenagers rewarding. Yes, I would relive the entire past year and a half with her again just to share in that moment of triumph and growth that was demonstrated when she not only did not jump all over the chance to be rid of me and rid of therapy, but when she actually pleaded with me to keep coming to see her.

My work at the clinic is busy, and I enjoy working with more adult clients. As much as I love my work, I love my babies more. I am hopeful to be able to slow my work down soon to be able to focus more on them.

We celebrated fall this weekend with a trip to the pumpkin patch and we carved a jack-o-latern tonight and enjoyed a bonfire with Grandpa and Grandma, which included roasting hog dogs and making s'mores by the fire.

We took a much needed day off from the outside world today and accomplished much around our home. Dear Husband completed his prep work for the wood stove just in time, as they deliver the stove tomorrow. I think we've neglected to take consistent photos of the process. We now have a wall of rock that rises the entire height of the wall to our 9 foot ceiling. The stove will sit in front of it. The closet that we inverted is not yet complete, and I look forward to that project being done as well. Dear Husband walled off the closet from the front entry and opened the back wall up to the utility room where the "new" closet will be. It's actually the same closet; it just opens up on the other side now.

My list of accomplishments for today included completing the skirt I began sewing last night (I really would have preferred to just buy the skirt, but could not find what I was looking for), washing the entire family's bedding, including mattress pads and pillow protectors and blankets, and hanging it all on the clothesline for that fresh outdoors smell, vacuuming the entire main floor of the house and cleaning bathrooms, washing the floor trim (it was embarrassingly dusty!), and scrubbing the north side of the house where the moss had begun to live on the siding. Too bad the brick only covers the front of our house. At least I don't think that moss tends to grow as much on brick. Then, after all these other tasks, I carved the jack-o-latern for the kiddos (which is why I look a bit drab in these pics) and then we enjoyed the bonfire. I am even catching up on this blog and then I have two pairs of pants to hem before I read the Sunday newspaper and go to bed. How's that for getting a few things done? I will enjoy a good night's rest in my freshly washed bedding that smells like country air.

A completely random thing to throw in is that I discovered a small lizard, a skink perhaps, in our basement today as I was sewing my skirt. I didn't know it was dead until I called my husband to come in his tights and cape and save the day. Turns out that one of the kids' toys smashed it against the wall and its tail was severed from it's body. I didn't know that would have killed it, though. I thought if they lost their tails, they just grew them back. It was definitely dead. Dear Son was extremely excited about the whole thing and has been jabbering about it ever since. I'm just glad he didn't beg us to be allowed to hold it!

Here's a pic of Dear Son with Grandpa fishing at the pumpkin farm and a couple pics of the jack-o-latern carving.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Schmoozing

I suppose I've been a bit on the short tempered side these days. It seems like my house is always a mess. I can barely ensure that one mess is cleaned up before the kids have created three or four more messes within seconds. Dear Husband is in the middle of a pet project involving reconstruction in our home that has dragged on for nearly two months now. I have way too many things to get done at any given time and never enough time to do them. I'm working extra hours as I transition into a different clinical practice, and the bodies that govern managed health care are making the transition a constant source of stress for me. My reimbursement by these companies is slow at best, and on indefinite hold at worst. My kids, who were once routinely admired by the grocery bagger at the local food mart for their great behavior, now act up so badly any time I take them anywhere that I am constantly embarrassed and mortified when I step foot in public with them. Additionally, they are making certain that Dear Husband and I never get an uninterrupted night of sleep as Dear Daughter gets up in her sleep and wanders into our bedroom with various dramas that apparently play out in her dreams (as if the drama when she is fully awake is not enough). She apparently has no memory of these 2 am dramas the next day, but Dear Husband and I certainly do when we are yawning and rubbing our eyes the next day (and the next and the next). Dear Son also gets up in his sleep with an unconscious mission to join us in our bed in the wee hours each morning. If Dear Husband has the energy, he takes Son back to his bed. I never have the energy. So we share our bed with an octopus each night. One that likes to squirm and twist in his sleep a lot and sleep horizontally across the mattress. I, of course, always get the feet end kicking me in the stomach or the ribs or the butt in my face, while husband gets the charming little baby face.

I had a mountain of various stuff piled on the kitchen table today as I tried to prepare lunch for the wee ones. Actually, none of the stuff was mine; it was all the kids'. As I stood with plates in my hands and no room on the table to place them, I felt my head might explode. The kids quietly and solemnly gathered their stuff and busily put it away before returning to their respective chairs to receive their plates for lunch. It was silent as I took my place next to Dear Son, and we all munched awhile without a peep.

Then Dear Son eyed me from the corner of his eye and timidly stated, "I like your hair!......(long pause)" I snickered despite myself and felt that warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of my stomach towards my child as I smiled at him and replied, "Thank you!" He smiled to himself and then paused another moment before timidly asking, "You happy now?"

So thereyago. My not-quite-three-year-old boy has already begun to figure out how to schmooze the opposite sex.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Froggies and Other Stuff

In case I've left ANY room for questioning on this matter, let me clarify: HE'S ALLLLLLLLLLLLL BOY!!!!!

This is the "froddy" (froggy) Dear Son recently adopted. I think it's actually a toad, but he doesn't know the difference. Besides, it's more fun to say "froddy" than it is to say "toady."

Could he be any more delighted with himself? I was most impressed when, after fondling, dropping, fondling, dropping again, he finally announced that he was going to "Put the froddy in the drass" (Put the froggy in the grass). You may remember that this was the routine in my previous post about Dear Son's love affair with fuzzy caterpillars. This meant he was showing compassion towards the poor thing (nevermind the incessant fondling and dropping), and wanted to return him to his family. Every day since, Dear Son has begged--beeeegggggggged--to go outside and find a "froddy" pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze!

Dear Husband had some luck finding the little baby froggies in our wood pile.

We had a field trip to the zoo recently with our homeschool co-op. When we reached the reptile house and Dear Son saw the various turtles behind their glass enclosures, he was beside himself begging to "touch him." This was due to the fact that a few weeks ago we found a turtle in the yard and it became Dear Son's best companion for the entire morning.

Did I mention that he is ALL BOY?!!??!?!

So far, no snakes. And so far, no "froddies" discovered in the clothes dryer.

Posting has been slow, I realize. Things are a bit busy around here. We are buzzing with homeschooling. I was undecided how structured to get with Dear Daughter on this yet. She just turned five after all. She would have been in Kindergarten per state standards except she missed the age cut off by three days. We've only homeschooled rather loosely so far as I wanted her to be a kid and not be concerned with stuff like school until she had to. And yet I've discovered that she does better with the structure. She is more than capable of a regular school schedule. She does well when pushed a bit towards her potential, and she loves to learn. I had decided at the beginning of the school year that I would review Kindergarten with her and not rush into first grade. That just wasn't working, however. She remembered everything from last year and was whizzing through a week of school in a single day. So I gave in and bumped her into the first grade curriculum I had waiting for her. The only area she is not quite in first grade level yet is math, and she is only a few weeks away from completing Kindergarten math.

For those family members who are interested, here are the things Zoe is doing academically:
She is learning how to count money and do simple subtraction. She is writing complete sentences and reading complete books (such as Dr. Seuess classics). She is learning about weather in science, and can explain the progression of how rain ends up as water that pipes into homes in the city.

She turns anything she can into an art project. We keep an entire chest of drawers in the kitchen filled with art supplies so that she can help herself anytime she wants and sit at the kitchen table for her creations. We also have an art station in the downstairs office where she can plop down and create to her heart's content.

She has begun piano lessons and is a natural at keeping a steady rhythm.

And she is beginning her second year of ballet and tap lessons.

She has "wowed" he teachers at co-op that have all approached me to inform me that she is way beyond the lessons they have prepared and the abilities of her peers in her class. I assure them that I already know this, and that perhaps they can just do their best to challenge her. I get her the other days of the week and can teach to her level. I mainly wanted her to have the experience of learning with other kids her age and developing socially in a setting like that. She would be absolutely BORED in public school. After all, they want her to be enrolled in pre-school this year and made it clear that they would not consider any other alternative.

I'm not sure what the future holds, but I'm pretty sure that my daughter will never be able to make good use of public education (no big surprise there). This will make things quite interesting for the forseeable future.

In addition to the homeschool routine, I am continuing to manage my part time career. I have not quite phased all out of the teen group home, but this is on the horizon as I build a practice at my new clinic. Currently, I am researching and preparing for an adult Bipolar psychoeducation and process group that I will launch next week. I am also coveting that doctorate degree I've not been able to pursue. I haven't yearned for it in the past as much as I've begun to yearn for it recently. I don't see myself being able to pursue it until the kids are at least near highschool as long as we are homeschooling. They require too much time and attention, and besides, they are my first responsibility and top priority. If they weren't, I'd have had that doctorate in the bag already. If I ever reach a point that I can pursue it, the deciding factor will be how much the degree will cost versus whether or not I will be too old for it to pay off.

I surived a week of single motherhood while Dear Husband was gone to Las Vegas last week. It was work, not pleasure (for both of us). I make a horrible single mom and have deep respect and empathy for moms that are full time single moms, perhaps while their husbands serve in the military. My own mom did this while my dad served in the Navy, and for the life of me I cannot imagine how she (or anyone) does this!

So thereyago--an update and a brain dump all in one. Efficiency has become ever so important in my life these days!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Canadian Caterpillar

Dear Son discovered furry caterpillars last week. We've long known of his fascination with worms, so his excitement over the furry variety was not a surprise. He could not have been more excited as the little thing wiggled and tickled as it crawled on his hand.

It reminded me of my childhood days when I would take country walks with my grandmother. She lived on a farm in rural Iowa, and we would walk the dirt roads in mile increments. She also gave me a brown paper lunch size bag to carry along as I loved to collect pretty rocks as we walked. I'm guessing my age in these memories to be around 4 or 5 years.

One day as I walked with Grandma, I discovered a fuzzy "teddy bear" caterpillar. I was so attracted to its fuzziness and felt some sort of ownership over it, and so I placed it in my paper bag. The one that already had a dozen or more pretty little rocks in it. Needless to say, by the time we got home, my pretty rocks were covered with green caterpillar guts, and my fuzzy little "teddy bear" caterpillar wasn't so fuzzy anymore. I think it must have been traumatic in order for me still to remember it so vividly 32 years later.

Dear Son "mothered" his caterpillar for a very long time, wrapping his little fist around it and carrying about lovingly. Transferring it from one hand to the other, dropping it on the concrete driveway from time to time and then snatching it back up and rollling it about in his hot little fist some more.





Dear Daughter was equally fascinated with it, and begged her little brother for a turn to hold it, and then after finally talking him into it, chickened out. She did work hard at picking grass blades for him to eat and hide in, though.

I finally grew concerned that the furry little critter was getting lethargic and it would soon be fondled to its death, so I suggested we let it go back to the grass. Dear Son was not too sure about this suggestion until I finally said that I thought the caterpillar might be sad because he misses his Mommy and Daddy. Dear Son looked very very concerned with this thought, and wandered to the grass where he lovingly set the limp creature back in the grass.

He squatted in the same spot for several moments and watched until the caterpillar found its way into hiding among the blades of grass. Then he turned to look at me with a mixture of sadness and hope as he inquired, "Caterpillar not happy?"

I reassured him that the caterpillar was going to find his family again and would be happy. This seemed to satisfy him, and we went onto something else, such as two-year-olds do.






Dear Daughter followed me to the clothesline, yammering about the caterpillar and whether or not he was happy. Weary of her non-stop jabbering and questioning, I replied rather shortly, "Not if he doesn't find his Mommy and Daddy!" Daughter was quite concerned as she stated for the 100th time, "...but WILL he?" and without waiting for a response added "Do you think his Mommy and Daddy moved to Canada?"

Huh? I had no idea where this came from. I have no memory of ever talking about Canada, and didn't know my just-turned-five-year-old even knew there was a Canada.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Not So Secret (or Divine) Ya Ya Boobie-hood

I checked into the radiology department bright and early at 8:30 am. I was instructed to fill out some paperwork, sign my rights away on a carbon form and wait a long time in the crowded lobby. Then I was called to a cubicle where my demographic information was reviewed before being dismissed back to the crowded lobby to wait for another long time. After a total of at least an hour and a half of waiting, two of us from the crowded lobby were called to accompany the medical assistant through the big door where we were introduced to a small waiting area where there was a secret society of three other women already waiting and dressed in hospital gowns, their civilian clothes showing from about the knee down. The assistant acknowledged to me that she knew this was my first time, and then she issued me specific instructions on what to do next. All the other women somberly exchanged knowing glances with one another, and I began to wonder what I was getting myself into. I was instructed to enter the little privacy booth and disrobe from the waist up, wipe off any deodorant and perfume, and put on the hospital gown, and I was issued a locker with a key to store my belongings.

I had no idea what to expect at my first mammogram appointment, but I don't think it was this.

I stood in the privacy stall feeling a little nervous, and having flashbacks about that late winter night almost three years ago when I entered Labor and Delivery Triage in a state of hard labor and was sent to the bathroom with a hospital gown and a plastic shopping bag in which to store my clothing. I wasn't sure how I was supposed to accomplish this in my condition, but I had to move quickly in between contractions as when those contractions came, I could barely stand.

This time the hospital garb was an odd shaped garment with three arm holes. I began wondering if there was something else no one had told me about what happens to women when they turn 40. I put this mysterious garment on the wrong way four times before I finally figured out how to wrap one of the arm holes around me twice.

I re-entered the secret area where the four other women sat, and searched their somber faces for reassurance of some sort. I perched on my chair, thinking this was like joining the society of the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Boobie-hood. I thought about addressing the group with, "So...come here often?" but I instead I offered, "Boy, I feel like I'm in the 'club' now!" Mercifully, the others giggled. I added, "So this becomes a once per year thing, huh? I thought the other yearly exam was enough." The others giggled again, knowingly. I was "in," I thought to myself. "I'm a 'boobie sister'!" I was assured by the others that there was still much more to come with this induction party.

Next I found myself in a dim room exposing myself to two radiology techs and allowing one of them to attach some super duper adhesive pasties to my nipples. Yanking those things off later was no party either. Then my breasts took turns at being yanked, stretched, and smashed in ways that I didn't think were humane, let alone possible. I was told to stand on my tip toes, stick my butt out and tilt my head while draping my arm casually across some big machine and allowing my breast to be smashed in a vice grip. Then I was supposed to talk casually about the weather during all this perverse activity. Dear God, when I was sure that they couldn't smash my breasts any tighter, they clamped that vice down a couple more notches. Finally, I was told to hold my breath (I didn't need any coaching on that one). The best part of all is when the tech was smashing my breast in her machine and warning me not to be surprised if I get called back in for a repeat because this is a baseline and the radiologists won't know what to compare it to.

I met up with one of my new boobie sisters in the lounge of the secret society on the way to get dressed again. She asked how it was, and I responded that it was quite the induction experience, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a boobie sister any more. She added that there has only been once so far that she has not been called back in for a re-do on her x-rays as there is always some problem with how the techs did this or that or because they couldn't see clearly enough.

When I exited the building, with my breasts burning and aching, I immediately called my dear mother to question why she had not given me a better warning of what I was about to go through, and thanks a lot for not making sure to warn me to bring some deoderant along. I then phoned my husband and said, "Don't EVER EVER complain to me about turning and coughing. Just sayin'." Then I drove to the closest Stuff Mart to buy more deoderant. I still had a 10 hour work day in front of me. I didn't want to deal with burning, aching breasts AND stinky body odor.

It also turns out that I'm not very good at the "secret" part of being a boobie sister.

The only good news in all of this is that I hopefully will not have to be re-inducted annually for another four years. That, and hopefully the results will be negative. The experience surely was.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Point of No Return

Five years ago I had already begun to dread the day my firstborn would enter the gates of Kindergarten. She has now arrived.

Here are my darlings on their first day. They are beginning a once per week day of home school co-op. I was going to teach one of the four hours in my daughter's room, but plans changed. I handed her over that morning to the hands of complete strangers. I expected her to love the classroom experience, and she did. I also expected her to be the youngest in her class, at having just turned five years old a month ago. She is one of only two girls in her class, and the other little girl is actually three weeks younger than her. Both of them are apparently at the top of the class in their abilities. My hope is that they become kindred spirits, as Dear Daughter badly needs a little girlfriend. I'm just thankful that there is another girl in her class, as the main reason I got us into this co-op scene was for Daughter to build some friendships. I was disappointed to see four boys on the roster and only one girl besides my daughter.

I get to spend the entire co-op day in the 2/3 year old room. This is honestly NOT my cup of tea. I would MUCH MUCH rather teach college psychology. However, I don't have the time to plan lessons even for a high school level course at this stage of the game in my own life.

Dear Son did fine on his first day, but I'm sure this is largely because I was there with him the whole time. As soon as I got the kids home from school that day and got Dear Son down for his nap, I had to head to work. Dear Husband later told me that our son went to his backpack at least once that evening and announced, "I wanna go to co-op again!"

So far, so good. All except for the part about how my oldest baby has now crossed the threshold. *sigh*

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A Glimmer of Hope

I don't often talk politics. In fact, I hate politics. However, as I've grown older over the years, my love for my country and my concern for the future of my country has deepened and matured. I'm sure my longing for a great future for my children has played heavily into this.

I have had a sick, sick feeling in my gut for months as I've watched the presidential election unfold. In fact, I've never despaired and feared for my future, my children's future, and the future of America as much as I have during this period of political chaos.

When most concerns me, is that when politics come up in my random discussions with young people in the range of 18-25 years of age, they unanimously and blindly support Obama. A gentle exploration into their reasons for supporting Obama is frightening. They say things like, "I don't want some 'old guy' running our country," "Obama supports legalizing marijuana," "Obama wants to end the war," and similar sentiments that are so vague and uninformed. It amazes me how many people are mesmerized by smooth talk and "stuff" that apparently sounds good at first blush. Dear God, help our country!

I don't want any more of my rights and freedoms in this great country taken away from me. I want a country in which I have the right to decide what the best way is to educate my children. I want a country in which I have the right to quality health care. I want a country in which I am free to build a business or a career and reap the financial rewards of my blood, sweat, and tears. I don't want to live in a country where Big Brother reigns and my rights and freedoms dwindle. Lately, I have feared that my own idea of the "American Dream" is a long lost ideal.

Throughout the recent politicl turmoil, there was no doubt that McCain would get my vote, though it was not because I was super excited about what he would do for our country. It was more about NOT casting my vote for Obama, for whom I have zero respect. The more Obama talks, and the longer the craziness of the presedential politics rages, the greater and greater my disdain for him grows.

And yet, something stirred inside me this past week with McCain's selection of Palin for his running mate and her speech that followed. I immediately respected her character, admired her poise and her authenticity. I watched her entire speech with a growing hope. I stayed up again last night watching McCain's speech, with that glimmer of hope growing.

For the first time during this political storm, the fear, despair, and sickness in the pit of my stomach are overshadowed with hope that despite the current state of our country, some good things can happen if McCain and Palin win the election.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Photo Shoot


Dear Daughter finally got her five-year-old photo shoot. She LOVES LOVES LOVES being in front the camera. She always has. The photographer couldn't stop photographing her at her two-year-old sitting. Each time the flash went off, Dear Daughter would shriek, "That's ADORABLE!" at herself. Not much has changed since then.

Dear Son has never much liked the camera. Until tonight. He couldn't wait to get in the pictures and get posed up just so.

I thought doting family would be curious to see the pics, so hereyago!





































































I typically like to avoid the camera, which explains why there hasn't been any pics of me on this blog for over a year, and before that well over a year. This is prolly all you'll get of me for at least the next year.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Conversations With My Son

Dear Son was my shadow as I wandered from bedroom to bathroom to another bedroom and another bathroom and then yet another bedroom putting away clothes and towels freshly folded from the clothesline. As he followed me through the master bedroom, he eyed the king-sized log bed and stated matter-of-factly, "I like Daddy's bed and Mommy's bed." I sighed as I thought of the past two weeks since that first night that we transitioned Dear Son from his crib to his "big boy" bed. There's not been a single night yet that he hasn't wriggled his way between Daddy and Mommy in the big log bed.

I replied, "Yeah, Mommy likes her bed, too. I also like Zachy's bed." Son responded, "I like my bed, too. (pause) Daddy go to sleep there, but then he goes away!? (his voice raised at the end almost like a question for which he can't quite figure out the answer). Indeed, his daddy does fall asleep in his bed with him while tucking him in, and then "go away" when he wakes up a bit later, leaving Dear Son to sleep alone in his bed.

I added, "I like Zachy's bed so much that I think Zachy should stay in his bed all night!"

And without missing a beat, he replies with, "Well, THAT doesn't make sense!"

"Sense" all depends on whether you are considering these things from a two-year-old mindset or a parent's mindset, now doesn't it?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Nature vs Nurture

It's a mystery, and nothing less. I find myself frequently reflecting upon the nature vs. nurture argument lately. I most definitely believe there's not an "either or" here, and I feel strongly that it is absolutely "both and." And yet I am not at all clear on how it all has played out to date in the lives of my little girl and my little boy.

I am not a pink and frilly kind of gal. In fact, I probably lean more toward the "tom boy" side. I enjoy manual labor, getting dirty, running power equipment. I have fantasized about driving big trucks and all kinds of construction equipment. I enjoy fishing much more than my husband does. Primitive camping is one of my long lost passions (something got lost in the translation when I moved away from the majestic wilderness of the Pacific Northwest). I hate hate hate (DESPISE, even) wearing high heeled shoes. In fact, I cannot even remember the last time I did so. I don't own any at present date. I could live everyday in sloppy jeans and t-shirts or sweatshirts. I'm certain this list could go on and on if I thought hard enough.

I did NOT deck out the baby nursery in frills and pink when we learned that a baby girl was to be born to us. I was, however, elated with the news of this dream come true that I dared not believe for, as the men in Dear Husband's family tend to produce boys. I did doll up Baby Zoe with hair bows and cute cute clothing and the like from the first day of her life, but this was mainly because people gave us all this stuff. Now that I think of it, I don't believe I EVER bought something totally girly and frilly for my baby.

And yet...my darling daughter gravitates naturally towards everything girly. By the time she was 20 months old she would grab matching hats and purses to go with her outfits before she would leave the house. She was soon all about My Little Pony, princesses, dressing up in frilly dresses, having tea parties, and the like.

When Dear Son came along, I had absolutely no idea how to be a Mommy to a little boy. I didn't doubt I could figure it out, but for the life of me I couldn't have explained to anyone exactly how I expected it would be done. The first year and a half of his life included watching My Little Pony and Care Bears and princess theme videos and playing with lots of "girl toys" with his big sister. I never worried that he might somehow be "damaged" by all of this. I never tried to guide him towards more boyish things, and I have no conscious awareness of treating him more roughly or doting on him less or substituting a "buck up and get over it" in place of cuddles and snuggles and kisses--though research would suggest that I have likely done these things subconsciously. My awareness tells me I have loved on him and cuddled and kissed him and squeezed him and "babied" him just as much or even more than his big sister. Yet somewhere before his second birthday, his stereotypical boy preferences and behaviors began to emerge.

Somehow, somewhere he got turned onto guns, which he calls "powers." Dear Husband and I have no idea how it started. While I did not set out to be "anti-gun" in our home, I also most definitely didn't encourage it. I have no idea why he began to grab the vacuum cleaner extension rod when I vacuumed the carpets and hold it like a high-powered weapon. I have no idea where he learned to hide behind the corners just out of sight and then leap out with his vacuum wand aimed strategically and pump the extension rapidly all while making "pow pow pow!" sorts of sounds with his mouth.

Dear Husband and I are also both completely stumped where he learned about Spiderman. Nothing Spiderman had ever entered our home until Dear Son suddenly became mysteriously infatuated with him. Before two years of age he began making associations to Spiderman. For example, the toes of his snow boots had a web like appearance in the molded rubber. He called them his "Spiderman boots," much to our intrigue.

While my daughter is currently enamored with The Little Mermaid, my son has recently become turned onto matchbox cars. He especially loves the ones with the flames on the sides and the hood that raises to expose the chrome engine inside. He loves to flip the little doors open and spin the little wheels, and line them up just so before flinging them off some self-made ramp and watching them crash to the floor (or the wall). Meanwhile, his big sister is decking herself out from head to toe in her princess dress up garb, complete with tiara, wand, and fuzzy princess shoes.

I can't pinpoint where in the equation, the nurture aspect played into all this, but I am acutely amazed at the apparent role of nature. Somewhere in their hardwiring, God apparently instilled genetic mapping that would turn my daughter onto frills and pink and princesses and that would excite my son with the concepts of super heroes, guns, and cars. I can't explain it, and I most certainly cannot control it, and so I just roll with it.

It's fun, and the mystery of it raises a greater appreciation within me for the family with which I've been blessed. A few years ago I pictured ours as a family with two little girls who preferred to snuggle in a bed together rather than occupy separate beds. Who giggled together and shared secrets. Who shared princess clothes and baby dolls. What I got was a girl and boy who have very different ideas of what play time looks like and what play toys are the "best" and how to carry out various activities....

...and lots of opportunities I might not have othewise had to ponder the age old nature vs. nurture question.