Friday, December 31, 2010

Crazy squirrel lady

I am not a fan of birds. But this summer, I was possessed with the desire to own a birdfeeder & attract them. I'm not sure why. And of course, being a beginner, I ended up attracting a squirrel. Not just any squirrel - Jumpy.

Jumpy has been hanging around our house since before Charlie was born, hiding his nuts in our yard & basically being a nuisance. Roman is the one who named him. Well, the arrival of the birdfeeders appeared to be the challenge Jumpy was looking for. It doesn't matter what kind of feeder I buy, Jumpy figures out how to get seeds from it. He destroyed the one pictured below within 2 weeks.

The thing is, I don't really mind feeding Jumpy. Of course, he's getting quite fat and may not make it up to his nest in the tree across the street eventually, but I like seeing him. But I do miss seeing birds strangely, so yesterday I bought a magazine from Birds & Blooms with tips on what to put in feeders to attract certain kinds of birds. And it dawned on me - because I am allergic to dogs & cats, these animals are my only chance at pets! They cause very little work for me other than filling the feeder, and I get to admire them when I have the time. And Jumpy, he's gotten to the point where he doesn't even run when we go in and out of the door. So, yes - I am the crazy squirrel lady.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A word for the year

When I have free time, which isn't often, I cruise around the Internet to scrapbooking sites & blogs. There are certain people I like to "drop in" on. The other day I popped over to Ali Edwards' blog. I'm not a big fan of her style, but often she will provide some inspiration that gets me thinking. And so it was this day - her "one little word."

The idea - to take a word and embrace it for the year. Let it guide your decisions, let it give you direction. I love this idea. So many words bounced around in my head, but it only took a couple days to settle on the one I will use. TIME.

Spend it, squander it, find it, make it, it goes too fast, it goes too slow... so each month I plan to do a little page about how TIME is affecting me but more important, how I am using my TIME. I want to spend more with my kids without thinking of the zillion other things I have to do. I want to carve some out each week so I can be creative. I want to use my TIME better.

So there you have it. We'll see where it takes me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fun on break

Already I have a bunch of videos I could share of bouncing, sledding, snow angels, and general goofing off (not to mention 2 of our "pet" squirrel!). But this one just shows the joy they had on Day One of break. Watch it a couple times to keep an eye on both boys.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Into the Christmas spirit

I have avoided listening to the radio station that play Christmas songs this year. I have stuck to the traditional favorite CDs that we have & am not disappointed to have missed "I want a hippopatamus for Christmas." In rotation has been Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Attic," Roger Whittaker's Christmas Album, Domestic Problem's old Christmas CD, and tonight I broke out Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters. Oh yes, I was belting out the backup vocals with those ladies.

Anyhoo, we've also been trying to focus more on the "Reason for the Season" with our advent calendar and general discussions. Of course, Santa Claus is very exciting to a 3-year-old so we had to go see him this afternoon. We thought Roman would take it more in stride, but he was just as excited as his brother. Charlie asked for candy & cars; Roman asked for the Lego Hogwart's Castle (no way, it's $130!), a DSi-XL (no way, he already has a DS!) and a street hockey set (oh yeah, it's already ordered).
This coming week is a busy one in terms of Christmas fun - Thursday is Doug's work dinner party, and on Saturday Doug and I are going to Greenfield Village for our own special holiday night out, including the Eagle Tavern Dinner. Oh, heavenly yum!
The boys have been shaking packages under the tree and begging to open one. We keep telling them it's socks and underwear, but Roman is very smart & has already identified a book for himself, a video for Charlie, and Legos for himself. Thankfully, he can't read through the wrapping paper. Will have to start disguising next year.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

All caught up, let December begin!

This Thanksgiving weekend has been a Godsend. We were running at breakneck speed, just keeping up with daily life - appointments, meetings, even our pleasure events felt like they were flying at us and speeding by. It's amazing what a few extra days does for one's sanity.

Of course, it has helped that my boys have been AWESOME the past few days. I was home with them on Wednesday (no school for anyone) and it was a rough go, but we found our footing. Friday and today they have just been great - aside from the constant talking from not one, but both.

Thursday evening Doug and I hopped online and bought all of Roman's, and almost all of Charlie's, Christmas gifts. Thank goodness for Free shipping helps too. Then Friday I went out to Toys-R-Us and got all but one last gift for Charlie. Got my parents' gifts purchased too. I'm way ahead of where I usually am - hopefully I can keep this up!

Christmas decor went up today too, and the boys were great with that. There are an awful lot of ornaments on the bottom 2 layers of the tree (and sometimes 3-4 on one branch, thanks to Charlie) but it looks like a family tree should. We had to rearrange the living room and we made the executive decision (again) to remove the tv from it. Not only did we want more room, but it's nice to have a room in the house that isn't for electronic entertainment.

Tonight I plan to put my feet up, get a scented candle going, and read a book. Or surf the Internet. Either way, I finally feel like I *can* do that and not feel stressed.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Picasso or a pain?

Charlie has begun to express his creative side. On the floor, with a Sharpie.

On the wall, with a pink crayon.

Thank goodness for Mr. Clean Magic Eraser!

Monday, November 01, 2010

When it rains, it pours

On Friday afternoon I opened the fridge to get Roman something to drink. When I tried to close the door, it wouldn't. It just hung there. Turns out that the washers that cause it to stay closedn & sealed had completely worn through. Luckily, I have a handy husband who spent $1.50 and fixed it.

Definitely lucky - because on Saturday he broke the washing machine. One load ran smooth, and when Doug tried to put the 2nd load in it started to fill and then "error." After a lot of time fiddling around, he thinks its the sensors. Whatever that means. So we had to order some online & we're without washer until at least Wednesday. And we hope that it IS the sensors, or there will be some scratch-and-ding shopping in our future.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Charlie - my normal

I told someone the other day that Charlie was "my normal." He's really just a pleasure to spend time with. He's almost 3, and has the attitude that comes with that. Wants to do almost everything himself. He is happy most the time, which is how he's been since birth. Even the caregivers at daycare have mentioned this - he is just happy! His speech is getting better too. What we have noticed is that the beginning sounds of words don't usually get pronounced, and "s" definitely doesn't. Like "poon" instead of "spoon." Or "har" instead of "car." I do expect at some point he will need speech therapy, but I also hear him trying to say these sounds more and more.
He loves to help around the house. His favorite is unloading the dishwasher, naming everything that he hands to me. When in a good mood, he'll even help pick up his toys but they don't always end up where we want them to. We are about done with his stinky diapers, but he has absolutely no interest in the toilet. No shame, either. Tonight he just leaned back and started doing #2 at the dinner table.
There's funny stories with him every day, but they usually revolve around copying something Roman has done, so it's more difficult to explain. The way he says "actually" as in, "actually, no, I don't." Tonight we played "shopping at Kroger" and he loved doing the scanning of the food. The one thing that drives us crazy - WHY? Why, mama? Why, daddy? Even after we explain something, he asks why all over again. Argh! Roman never did that so it's all new to us. Anyway, the boy is adorable and we're loving watching him grow - and grow in his skills as a little brother, too.

Monday, October 18, 2010

hating to do what's best for my boy

Doug wrote this title on his Facebook the other day, and I had to completely agree. Roman was needing an adjustment in medication, & that means more of it. He was bouncy again in class, going to the bathroom 3-4 times before lunch alone. Picking his scabs until they bled on his leg, arm, & now under his nose. Having meltdowns almost every day after school. Disorganized thought processes (not making much sense or connections) after dinner. So we had to up his ADHD med, his bipolar med, & adjust the times he takes them. If it doesn't work, we'll probably have to up his anxiety med too. Sooo....

We hate it. I hate having to give him medicine to be like other kids. For me to like him better. For him to function in society and be accepted. Yet what I love about our therapist is she is always on the lookout for cutting edge & even more "natural" therapies. Enter: neurofeedback.
Basically, it adjusts the "bad reaction" brainwaves to be "proper reaction" brainwaves. Completely passive. Takes between 20-60 sessions but apparently works great on ADHD, anxiety, and other things. Kids have been known to drop medications when done with it. I have a woman I work with who has already noticed a difference in her own kid's anxiety after 20 sessions. So we're very interested and thinking hard on it. The closest place that will take our insurance is in Ann Arbor, which means obnoxious drive times.

Meanwhile, we keep plugging along. I see some improvements - Ro is more freely telling me he loves me and showing me affection with hugs - but know that it is a long, long haul... lifelong, I suspect... to keep him balanced & functioning. The unfairness of it for Ro hurts me.

Friday, October 15, 2010

going out with the women

Tomorrow morning I am going on an overnighter with the ladies from my mom support group through therapy. We all have adopted children who are, at some level, attachment-disturbed. I am excited and nervous about this opportunity. We have been seeing each other practically every other Monday since January and at some level I know them all intimately - and the other, whew, I barely know them at all personally. And I have always hated my initial personality - I am so shy that I think I come off as stand-offish. It's very hard for me to make friends and yet I want to badly.

Anyway, so it'll be a fun weekend but I'll have to work hard to try to break out of my reserved shell. Yes, people, those of you who have known me forever may be surprised at that! Cross fingers that things go well.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

N, Y, & Z - the end!

I really struggled with these letters. Not that I couldn't come up with ideas - it was settling on the idea that was the problem. Neighborhood came to me after I was thinking about it for awhile. I knew I wanted "yummy" but couldn't think of what to feature - and then threw ham in the slow cooker Monday and realized how much I loved it. And "zoo" for Z - of course. I thought it odd to end with a picture of a snow monkey though, so added a picture of myself to go with it.

So as I finish the alphabet book about me, I have lots more ideas. This past weekend I scrapped another 22 pages, plus finished my picture-a-day album (12 weeks were left). One of my more successful weekends. So now what? I think I'll finish a couple projects started in the spring and see where the creative spirit takes me!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

T, W, & X

Okay folks, this is the best I can do until after this weekend. I am spending Thursday packing my stuff for my terrific scrapbooking weekend with the girls!

Monday, October 04, 2010

what kind of alpha is this? C, S, U, V

It's so crazy, gentle readers, I don't even know what letter I should be on anymore. Officially, today's class is the letter U. However, having missed C, N, & T I felt I needed to do a little catch-up. So I finally scanned in my C picture, and did U and V. Tomorrow I will go back to N hopefully (I've settled on "neighborhood" instead of "nap"), get my T picture taken ("teaching"), and maybe even W? I am going scrapbooking this weekend and I'd love to have all the pages printed out to show off to the ladies.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Q & R

What a strange part of the alphabet. My idea for S, which is today, has to wait until tomorrow for a picture. My idea for T has to wait until Monday for a picture. I suppose I should just do U today, but I've got some books from the library I want to plow through, so I'm going to do that tonight instead! Enjoy Q & R.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

N?, O & P

N, like C, has turned out to be a stinker of a letter. I know what I want to do - how much I love naps - but the one picture I can think of is from 2004 & goodness knows where it is digitally. So, N has to wait & I moved on with O and P.

Monday, September 27, 2010

What a teacher deals with

I don't usually enter into the teacher arguments. I know I'm fortunate to be home in the summer with my children. I know I appear to work less hours than office workers. I also truly enjoy my job, which means that it doesn't usually feel like work - again, I'm very fortunate indeed. But sometimes I wish I could really share what my day is like. I've seen those forwarded emails about what I *should* be worth monetarily and how I educate the world. But no lie - this is what I did today outside my normal job of being in the classroom and teaching:

1. helped a student clean out his locker, organize his binders, and admit that he needed help dealing with the load of work in seventh grade.
2. Empathized with a student as he discussed his upcoming foot surgery that would take him out of school for 2 weeks.
3. Talked to a mom on the phone about one of my assignments.
4. Emailed a dad about his student who is already failing multiple classes.
5. Counseled a girl who has panic attacks & yet wants to go to on our DC trip.
6. Email-conversed with girl's mom to discuss the issue.
7. Brief hallway meeting with principal on said panic-attack issue.
8. Attempted to convince a spaced-out student that he could not read his novel in the hallway instead of being in my class today. I don't know that I succeeded.
9. Emailed set of parents saying their son was not allowed to bring a novel to class anymore.
10. Had to discuss with student that his bodily function noises (burps, mostly) needed to be handled in a better way than out loud while I teach.

On any given day, getting #1 accomplished would be a good day for me. Today I played parent to a LOT of students. I think it's going to be one of those years.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Letters I through M

Oh yes folks, I think I did actually fall off the face of the earth this week. You know how some weeks are so busy, you can only survive in your own little cocoon? And everything else in the world seems to be very far away. That was me. But I've resurfaced & have completed 5 more letters, in time to catch me up for tomorrow's letter - N - and I'm pretty sure it's going to be about taking a nap!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

F, G, H - did I fall off the face of the earth?

Charlie had some manly surgery done on Monday - outpatient, and he's feeling great - but I certainly fell behind on doing my pages. While waiting for the surgery I did have a chance to brainstorm a lot of ideas for my alpha book, so that has been helpful. Better yet - I is today, & I want to take a picture of my favorite ice cream. It calls for a trip to Baskin Robbins after dinner tonight!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

letters D & E

Yup, I know I missed C. The picture I wanted to use I had to scan in, and my scanner doesn't want to work with my laptop right now. I'll definitely get back to it though! I was able to put together both D & E during Charlie's nap today, so here they are! And now I'm back on track.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Continuing... the letter B

Tomorrow, C, will be about cats. Maybe I'll even go with "crazy cat lady."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ABC Inspiration

I began a class yesterday called "ABC Inspiration" over at Jessica Sprague's website, for digital scrapbooking. It's my first online class that I have paid for, and already I'm happy. Not only did the creator provide sets of red papers, blue papers, and "solid" (distressed) papers, she also designed 4 different templates and included 2 sets of word art. In my thinking today of the subject matter of the book, however, I decided to do something I'd always wanted but put aside - myself. It's going to be an ABC book all about ME. As yesterday was a "prep" day, today's page was "A." And here it is! It only took me about 20 minutes to do, and that's because I upgraded to Photoshop Elements 8 and am still learning the new format.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Roman (& Charlie) on football

me: You know what's cool? You can play flag football all the way until you're 15. You don't have to do tackle unless you want to.

Ro: "That's good. Because I'm not really that kind of boy."

me, before first game: Are you nervous?

Ro: "No. (pause)... Well, I kind of feel like Harry Potter right before his first Quidditch match."

me: Charlie, do you see Ro-Ro out there?

Charlie: "HI ROMAN! HI ROMAN!"

everytime we cheer or clap...

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A year of learning

Roman has 2 days in his new classroom under his belt, and things are fine academically speaking. I had a chance to speak with his teacher yesterday after school & unlike most parents (so I've heard) I decided to take the high road and just commiserate as a fellow teacher how stressed she must be to have to set up a classroom in less than 24 hours. It's certainly not her fault the district is lame in adding a class at the last minute.

Socially speaking, I think Roman is going to have a harder time this year. He has no close friend in his class although he did know 3-4 kids. Roman is the kind who wants everyone to like him and there's a "mean" kid in his class who has been rude already, making fun of his shoes (which are totally cool, btw) on the playground. Roman takes everything personally so of course, this led to a meltdown this evening because he wanted new shoes immediately. It took awhile to get at the heart of the matter, and when he finally said what happened I wanted to cry for him. If only he could have an adult mind in his kid body, he could be his own person & be damned this stupid little kid. So we will attempt to empower him instead.

As for Charlie, he is loving his days at Ms. Gretchen's. He adores her, apparently has a little friend named Cooper that he plays trucks with, and is eating & sleeping well. Saves all his grumpies for us, I guess. I'm looking forward to this weekend to spend time with my boys - I've missed being around them!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

why the drama?

Monday night was really hard on Roman. He went to bed at 7:30 just to end the day and get on with school. But of course he had a hard time sleeping - up three times, ended up in our bed to fall asleep, took forever. Complained of a stomachache, headache, needed a Band-Aid, you name it. Charlie wasn't much better - he's had a cold the past few days so he's generally grumpy and at bedtime HE wants in our bed now, too.

Ro's first day of school was awesome, though - Charlie's too. We got home & I'm paging through Roman's zillions of handouts and I see one that says they've added a split class (1st and 2nd combined) because of the high number of students. I knew right then - Roman was selected. And sure enough, we had a message on our machine stating that Roman would begin in the split class tomorrow. So what do you know... he has no idea who is in his class, he knows nothing about his teacher, and he is already worrying about the get-to-know-you "homework" he was supposed to do for his first teacher, not even mentioning his class supplies in his OWN DESK. You can't underestimate the importance of his own desk, it was a highlight.

So I made a call to someone who is close to the principal, and she reassured me it was a matter of "finding bodies" and no slight against Ro that he's in a split. In fact, she reassured me that the teacher is very patient and while has good structure, understands "the trees as well as the forest." Meaning she counts kids as individuals. I suppose to Roman's benefit, as well, she has experience with IEPs (kids with special needs who have special plans) which we've wondered if Ro will need if the medications aren't enough.

Tonight was a watered-down version of last night, though - there's anxiety again. He has no idea who the other kids are who have been selected (15 2nd graders) and is concerned that his friends will consider him "out of sight, out of mind." I have decided to roll with God's plan but have a stomachache myself for him - nothing worse for an anxiety-prone child to have to do this all over again.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

a weekend to catch our breath

While traditionally we should be at the beach watching the boats from the Tri-State Regatta with my parents, or camping in Grand Haven with Doug's parents, we chose to stay home this weekend. We had a pretty busy summer coming & going to so many fun things. The past couple days have been nice to just spend as a family of 4. Yesterday we puttered around the house, doing yardwork & generally putting things away. There were a couple moments where we *gasp!* had nothing to do but watch the kids have fun. Amazing. Today we ran a couple errands but again, nothing too strenuous.
Doug came up with a fun idea for dinner tonight - I don't know how he got it in his head - but he wanted a "P" dinner. Everything had to start with P. We had pigs in a blanket, popcorn, peas, punch to drink (Doug had pale ale), & Doug also made a small bit of pork ribs for himself. Roman was sad it didn't include pears.

Tomorrow is our last day of rest. On the agenda is really, again, just things here & there. I want to get to the mall to get a good pair of grey pants... Doug has been thinking about taking Charlie's crib down... Roman would like to play with a friend. Charlie, of course, is happy just to be outside doing anything. And there it is, the last day before we plunge headlong into "normal" life again.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Fall is on its way

Besides the aforementioned Halloween conversation, other things tell me that my favorite season is almost upon us. School, of course, being the biggest one. I went back to work on Monday and feel very unprepared for the school year. Lots of ideas but lots of things to do. It's horrible to feel behind before the school year even starts! I hope to get a lot of the computer-based stuff done this weekend.

Football has started... for Roman, anyway. I don't pay much attention to college or pro sports, but Ro had his first football practice on Tuesday night. He came home absolutely excited about it - showing me how to hold a football, throw it, and explaining (in somewhat confusing terms) the first couple plays he learned. So happy that he has shown interest in something that Doug loves too.

The boys head back to school as well. We had the "bounce back to school" fun time for Ro on Monday night, and there's an Open House for Charlie's daycare on Thursday evening. It's a good thing we have no plans for Labor Day, because this week is crazy! One thing I am looking forward to is Doug not working late once school starts. He told his work that he just couldn't put in the long hours once I returned to the classroom. Not sure how that will go down, but at this point they haven't fussed too much.

I have a tummyache this evening and I'm not sure what it's from. Again, I think it's the feeling of total unpreparedness I have. Hopefully I can get a handle on things tomorrow for the half-day we work. And then bid summer goodbye this weekend!

Monday, August 23, 2010

a Halloween conversation

Driving past the temporary Halloween store on Aug. 23:

Roman: "Can we get my costume today?"

me: No.

R: "Why not?"

me: Because you haven't truly decided what you want to be, and I don't want you to change your mind after we buy something.

R: "I do know! I want to be a zombie ninja!"

me: A zombie ninja?

R: "Yes! Or, a Jedi. Or, anything else they have that I might like."

So he hasn't decided yet, but at least we've narrowed it down, eh? Charlie, on the other hand, hooted for a Buzz Lightyear costume at Toys R Us and has worn it around the house already. Clearly he knows his own mind. By the way, I Googled it & there is an actual "zombie ninja" costume. Wow.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Charlie pedals, Roman chants

Continuing to encourage Charlie in his pedaling pursuits, Roman first modeled correct biking procedure while Charlie watched all summer. At this point, Roman was giving Charlie pushes from behind & chanting songs to encourage him. And then, all of the sudden.... Charlie pedaled!

Currently he pedals about three-fourths of the time, doing the "Flintstone" with his feet the rest. But he does love to be like big brother!

Friday, August 13, 2010

She's crafty... she's just my type!

Here are some things I've been playing around with lately.

Covered a bare holder with coordinating papers.

spray painted a black candle holder brown.

Moved these items to a better canvas, updated the pictures, and hung.

Shelves in the dining room that can be really cool if I could just find the right things/positions.
I really enjoy doing & making things. Because I'm truly not that artistic, often a project doesn't turn out the way I visualize. But then I can keep tweaking things. And I love doing stuff for the house. If it were up to me, I'd be buying & playing around with knick-knacks all day long. And by no means are these things "done." I'm constantly thinking of changing colors or moving things or adding to it. But there is definitely more to come - I have a couple mini-albums I'd like to scrap (or at least put the paper on the pages!) and as our master bedroom has been painted a new color, I've got a couple of crafty ideas for in there too.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Highs & lows

With Roman, the little victories mean a lot. Especially me, as he seems to have such trouble expressing his love & affection toward me. I sometimes wonder if it's there at all. He's definitely not securely attached to me. For example, what I usually get is what happened tonight. He's at his grandparents, and he called us at 9:15 because he was having a hard time falling asleep. And he told Doug, he realized why - "I didn't say goodnight to you." Not me - he didn't even ask for me - it was Dad. When I tell him I love him, as I did on the phone, I get the same reply - "okay." Can you imagine telling someone you love them daily and only getting an "okay" in response? Doug told him the same thing on the phone, and Roman of course replied "Love you too." It's clear where I stand. It's hard to not take this personally, but it's what I have to do. It's not me, it's my position as mother.

That's why I have to take the little things in a big way. Like when we were getting ready to go meet my parents & Roman spontaneously said, "I'm going to miss you." I don't think he's ever told me that before. And the other night, he cuddled next to me while watching tv even though his Dad was there too. I remember once someone told me that it was the parents' job to love the children, and to earn their love in return. But in a natural relationship, even with parent/child, there is affection that comes back to the parent. I hear parents say "Oh, isn't it wonderful" and how it's the "best job in the world" to be a mom or dad. They clearly get affirmation from their children in some way. I had never experienced that at all until Charlie came along. Spontaneous hugs, the attach-explore stage, running to a parent for comfort... all things Roman has never done. I hurt so badly for how damaged he is in that respect, and once in awhile I have a small pity party for me - because I live his damage now too.

Friday, July 30, 2010

After the vacation

The vacation was very fun & Roman especially handled things very well. Only 2 small meltdowns, both easily calmed & controlled. This week has been VBS at church, which is more of a challenge. Charlie has fun, but he does not like being away from us for 3.5 hours a day while Ro and I participate in classes. And as much as I like older kids, I'm thinking of doing 3rd grade next year!

Roman finished his baseball season last night. His coaches did the best they could, but it certainly wasn't the learning experience we had hoped he'd have. Not sure what we'll do next year. Football starts in August. We got ourselves into an interesting situation with that. It's Roman's first time with flag, and apparently we signed up for the wrong league for an introductory season! The one we signed up with has practice 3x a week for 2.5 hours. Seriously. For 7-year-olds. We didn't discover this until we had paid the fee. The more we think about it (plus games on Sundays!) we are not ready to commit to this during the school year. So we are thinking of defecting to another league in the area, one that does practice 1x a week plus games. I can handle that. Just an expensive lesson learned.

Myself, I'm getting pretty tired of arranging doctor appointments. Roman and I are both on medication where we have to check in with a doctor at regular intervals. It's getting quite tiresome, because for family convenience we schedule in the afternoon - and Charlie naps from 1-3pm most days. so I end up hiring babysitters to cover almost every time I'm gone. I feel like I've spent the summer coordinating things - playdates, doctors, errands, babysitters. Looking forward to a respite in August, I hope.

Otherwise, we keep plugging along. I usually start thinking about school around this time, but this summer - not at all. I think being on a cart for yet another year, plus 3 of my 5 classes are electives, I'm feeling a bit... not excited. It's easy to blow it off if it doesn't really "count" you know? Ah well, another week or two and I'll start updating my parent letters anyway.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Kentucky Friday

I'm sure you're not surprised to learn we went swimming this morning as soon as the pool opened at 9. Yeah. After that and an early lunch, the 3 oldest went to a kids' program. Charlie fell asleep in my lap at 11:30am after eating some mac & cheese. Really cute. When he awoke, Doug and I and C. went into Grand Rivers one more time to poke around. The 2 brothers & their wives went golfing, and parents-in-law also poked around here and there. We all met back up at the dock where the boys were feeding the turtles at the end of their program. We had a dinner of hamburgers and leftovers here at the condo, and ice cream to top off the week. Since we & the South Dakotans are heading out tomorrow morning for our homes, we went our separate ways to pack & organize, or in my case, track down the kids' stuff in two different condos & the car.

Tomorrow we load and it's a leisurely drive to Dayton, as Charlie can't do much longer in the car. And then home Sunday. As always at the end of a vacation, I wish we didn't have to go, but I look forward to getting home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kentucky Thursday

Today was an interesting day. Doug went golfing with his 2 brothers & Serena, and Kathy offered to take the 3 older boys to a movie since it was a really hot day (no mini-golfing). Charlie & I went on our own adventure to the Nature Station. It was really fun, like a "Kentucky backyard" and we saw 4 different kinds of owls, bald eagles, vultures, a groundhog, deer, a bobcat, turkey, and the coolest - 2 red wolves (a very endangered species). Inside the Nature Station they had tanks with turtles, snakes, and flying squirrels, along with a kids' play area where you could examine animal skulls, skin, etc. and about 6 different pelts to touch. Charlie loved it.

We got back and after lunch, C. took a nap. And then the grumpies arrived. He woke up once yelling for me, but fell back to sleep. The second time he awoke he was just pissy. Crying at everything, changing his mind, whining, the worst. I took him for a golf cart ride and we went to look at the turtles by the restaurant, but he didn't want to leave when it was time so the crying and screaming started all over again. When everyone returned around 3pm from their varied pursuits, we all went swimming. C. was finally in a better mood. Roman is like a fish in the pool and loves doing tricks and practicing pushing off and doing jumps & "dives." Charlie has graduated to moving his arms and legs while we hold him under his armpits, and calling "I'm swimming!"

We went to Patti's 1880s Settlement for dinner. Very down-home country cooking but delicious. Another funny thing, this restaurant also allowed us to bring our own wine in but the waitstaff wasn't allowed to touch it. We had to bring our own opener and pay a dollar per wine glass. Anyway, it was a 2 hour meal but the kids were CHAMPS, seriously. Probably could've gotten a rousing game of cards going tonight but we are all tired from playing & digesting. I think we're all going to bed (9:20 local time!).

Tomorrow, our last full day here. The older boys are going to do a kids' program in the afternoon & I'm hoping to check out a couple antiques (crap?) stores in the area. Swimming of course, & dinner here in the condo to use up a lot of our food. Ice cream is planned in the town as a final sendoff.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kentucky Wednesday

Today began with a quick trip to Paducah to the Wal-Mart. I don't think we could get any more Kentucky-ish. We had a few things to pick up that the local IGA didn't carry. Roman did not go because Aunt Kathy offered to take the 3 older boys downtown on the golf cart & to check out the shops. Roman came back with a stuffed turtle named Mario, a smaller one for Charlie named Luigi, and Alek named his Yoshi (all names from Mario games). Not sure what Ian's turtle is named. All the boys are thrilled with them. I love boys who don't mind showing a little love for stuffed animals.

When we got back from W-M, I went with C & R to go swim with their cousins while Doug did some work. When we finished up and headed back for lunch, Scott & Serena had arrived from Atlanta. They went swimming with the boys AGAIN, while I decided to nap with Charlie for a couple hours. The afternoon brought... you guessed it... more swimming, then dinner out at the Yacht Club here on resort property. It was cool because even though it's a dry county, you can bring your own alcohol in and they will serve it. So we brought a couple bottles of red wine in. The food was great, I had shrimp. Yummy!

At the end of the meal, the waitress asked the boys if they'd like to feed turtles. Of course they would, so she brought out some stale rolls from the day before and led us out onto a little walkway by the kitchen. Below us in the bay were probably 75 to 100 turtles swimming around. It was so neat! By the end of this excitement, it was time for Charlie to hit the hay so we all headed back. I am now in our condo with the two boys while the rest of the adults party next door. I don't mind though, I make Doug do a lot of the kid stuff during the day while I chat. :)

Golf is on the agenda for tomorrow, 18 holes for 4 of them, mini-golfing for the rest. You bet I'm mini-golfing! As for weather, we haven't had any of the storms that appear to be passing by on the weather maps. It's been partly sunny or overcast, and humid every day. I start sweating just walking next door!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Kentucky Tuesday

We decided to go adventuring today. We started at the north end of Land Between the Lakes National Park. As I was looking at the local brochure-map, something I had overlooked seemed to jump out at me - Fort Donelson National Battlefield! A Civil War battle site, just 40 minutes away! So we decided to head down there and work our way back up the LBL area. We did swing through the Elk & Bison Preserve, and we saw a herd of buffalo by a pond and 4 female elk. On our way out, just as hope was almost lost, we caught sight of a male elk with big, big antlers. Very cool!

We had packed a lunch and so we had a picnic before we headed into Fort Donelson. By the end of the first 3 stops, it was so blazin' hot that we decided to head back to the condo & swim, maybe stopping at the Nature Station on the way. Charlie, Roman, and myself all fell asleep so clearly there was no other stop! Once we got back to the condo, Roman went off to the beach with his cousins & we took Charlie to the indoor pool. Charlie is a fish! He is now jumping off the side into our arms, crab-crawling along the side back to the stairs, and actually was telling Doug to move so he could jump in without being caught. Not yet, mister!

Roman & cousins (and aunt & uncle) arrived at the pool, soon followed by Grandma, and I had a chance to read (gasp!) for a little. Happy Hour commenced around 4:30, followed by bbq chicken! Boys ask every night to be put to bed, they're so exhausted. I gave Roman a 15-minute warning for bed & his reply was, "I don't mind if we go now." Funny boys! Tomorrow will probably be a quick trip to Wal-Mart in Paducah (doesn't that sound very Kentucky-ish?) and then swimming all day again. The other aunt & uncle arrive tomorrow afternoon - more excitement!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Kentucky

Our place in Land Between the Lakes is very nice. It's a "loft condo" and our bedroom is in the loft area, which Roman loves. The deck is on stilts and overlooks the bay, which is cool. We watched turtles swimming around by the banks last night as burgers cooked on the grill. Very nice. But because we're on central time, Charlie woke up at 5:30 Central Time. Not cool.

The closest pool has a slide and is really really warm, not sure if that's condo or weather related. It's supposed to be high humidity and mid-90s through Wednesday. The boy cousins have begun playing like they just saw each other last week, not last Christmas. Although Charlie can't keep up with the older ones, and we all feel kind of bad for him.

In the Land Between the Lakes there is cool stuff like an 1850s settlement with costumed interpreters, a Nature Station, and a bison and elk preserve where they're trying to restore it to original landscape. Obviously need to check all that out. Today is just a matter of swim, explore, swim, hang out, and do not get in the car! Enough driving for a few days.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Charlie update

Charlie has been following Roman around all summer. He imitates Roman doing everything. His speech is coming along really fast now, with sentences being the norm now (although often leaving some words out). The connections he makes are pretty amazing. He is Opposite Boy when it comes to food & activities, liking everything Roman did not (& vice versa). One thing he did insist on, however, was a temporary tattoo. Roman has a sheet of them that he occasionally uses. He let Charlie have a tiger on his left forearm. When Charlie went to bed that night, he was crying & babbling. I went in and finally figured out – he wanted 2 more tattoos, one on his right hand and one on his right forearm. I had to promise he’d get one in the morning for him to finally calm down!

He had his first playdate this past Wednesday with Allie, the little sister of Roman’s friend. He was SO excited to play in their playroom & on the playscape in their yard. He also likes when Roman’s friends come over, as he thinks he gets to play with them too. Sometimes the friends will find him amusing, sometimes not.

While I had wanted to do a class or something with Charlie, I just couldn’t find the right one at the right time. I’ve tried to take him places that he could learn from then, like Domino’s Farms. We did a lot of swimming at my cousin’s over the 4th of July too. As he is Opposite Boy, he loves being outside in the sandbox, in the kiddy pool, blowing bubbles, even just wandering around and looking at bugs. Aside from the temper tantrums & limit-pushing, the boy is at a great age.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Roman update

Roman has had a busy & fun summer, according to him. He got to stay at his grandparents’ in SJ for a few days with me & Charlie, and he is also in Lego Camp this week in the mornings which he loves. Baseball continues every Thursday until the end of July, and while no real skills are being learned Roman still likes the sport and has definitely improved over last year. He has had lots of playdates with different friends & done errands with me with little complaining. Also, we got the game Lego Harry Potter for the Wii, so with any extra time he beats it downstairs to do a level.

On the internal side, Roman is struggling with an increase in anxiety. He has always struggled with separation, continuing to have nightmares about being “stolen” & asking lots of questions about what would happen if there was a tornado, if I had an allergy attack at a barn we visited, things of that nature. This anxiety has now extended to outside, where he basically refuses to play unless he’s on a bike. He will not go in the backyard because of bees & will not go to the park unless everything is inspected first – for bees, of course. Because this is interfering with daily life, we spoke with dr. who prescribes his meds & we started a new one. Hopefully it will work and in my words, be a “pill that will make him go in the backyard.”

He has much more to look forward to this summer – vacation next week where he sees his cousins from South Dakota, VBS, another few days with his cousin Eli at grandparents’ house, a trip to a fair, & another week-long camp locally. All that plus preparing, at some point, to start second grade! He has already picked out the backpack he wants.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

A letter from the American flag.

Some people call me Old Glory, others call me the Star-Spangled Banner, but whatever they call me, I am your flag; the flag of the United States of America.

I remember some time ago people lined up on both sides of the street to watch the parade, and naturally, I was always there, proudly waving in the breeze.

When your daddy saw me coming, he immediately removed his hat and placed it over his heart. Remember? And you, I remember you standing there straight as a soldier. You didn’t have a hat, but you were giving the right salute.

Remember your little sister? Not to be outdone, she was saluting the same as you, with her hand over her heart. Remember?

What happened? I’m still the same old flag. Oh, I have added a few more stars since your grandparents were children, and a lot more blood has been shed since those parades of long ago. But I don’t feel as proud as I used to. When I come down your street, you just stand there with your hands in your pockets. I may get a small glance, but then you look away.

I see children running around and shouting. They don’t seem to know who I am. I saw one man take off his hat and look around. He didn’t see anybody else with his hat off, so he quickly put his back on. Is it a sin to be patriotic? Have you forgotten what I stand for and where I’ve been? Omaha Beach, Guadalcanal, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf.

Take a look at the memorial honor rolls sometime. Look at the names of those who never came back in order to keep this republic free. One nation under God. When you salute me, you are actually saluting them.

Well, it won’t be long until I’ll be coming down your street again. So, when you see me, stand straight and place your right hand over your heart. I’ll salute you by waving back. And I’ll know that you remembered.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why summer is kind of cool

I'm apparently into lists, because in my head I was thinking of what to blog and it was another list. Bulletpoints are great. So... why I think summer is kind of cool.

We have a great big tree in our front yard that shades the deck. And no matter how hot it is, it's shady & cool on that deck.

Roman can have playdates on any day. No school nights to beware of! And if I do it right, like right now, Roman can have a more-quiet friend over while Charlie naps & I get precious time to myself.

If I grab the hose & "accidentally" get the kids & myself wet, it's okay. We have all day to dry off.

Charlie can go in just a diaper and it's acceptable.

If I feel like going to a store, I can just go. No narrow window between work & school pickup & dinner making.

I have the patience to do a craft with the kids. And they think it's fun.

A slight downside - I take pictures of everything. And then want to scrap it. And can't find the time! But I do have the space in my mind to think about scrapbooking.

By pictures of everything, I mean even the chipmunk that we saw crawl up to the bird feeder. Because we haven't seen chipmunks around here on account of the neighborhood cats, & we named him Alvin, and we wonder if he's friends with Jumpy the Squirrel who lives in our tree, and Jumpy has a girlfriend & I want a picture of her...

Fourth of July is my favorite holiday.

Sweeter white wine or Mike's Hard Lemonade just tastes soooo good.

Strawberries, blueberries, & watermelon. Had 2 of the 3 for lunch today!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My hopeful to-do list

Things I'd like to get around to, or even possibly complete, by August 31:
Get into the "39 Clues" series
See Eclipse & Toy Story 3
Clean out the 2nd closet in Charlie's room
Get our master bedroom (finally!) stripped of wallpaper
Go out to Kensington MetroPark a couple times
Spend a day with Roman & Charlie individually
Finish up the 2009 Project 365 album
Scrapbook a few more pages
Declutter the house
Spray-paint a couple items for fun

And always on the list: Laugh a lot with these adorable boys.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A boy who is seven.

Happy seventh birthday, Roman. We love you so very, very much.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

the creative side

I have been wanting to make cards for awhile now, but have never been pleased with the results when I attempted it with paper. You'd think it'd be just like scrapbooking on a smaller scale, but the cute things I saw just never translated when made by my hands. I began to see it as a chore, and so went back to buying dollar-store cards for the past year. And then...
At the scrapbooking convention there was a place that sold digital card templates. Don't ask me why, but it never occurred to me to make the cards on my computer and print them. I bought it on the spot and have now made 2 cards, one with a template and one without. And I enjoyed it! In fact, I was excited to make them and had fun playing around with it. Looking forward to making a couple for Father's Day, too, not to mention Roman's birthday next week! Now the only problem is finding the time to be creative.

Monday, May 31, 2010

...a cruel, cruel summer...

Lyrics of an old song that dashed through my head today as I attended to my family's needs. Charlie is really coming into his own and it's great to see - except I am reminded that I really hate "two." There's lots of demanding and no understanding. Can Mama have 30 seconds to finish this article in a magazine that she's tried to read 4 times today? NO! "Mama play!" is heard. And we're not just talking the 2-year-old with that one.

Because of many reasons, I seem to have hit the wall of not wanting to play with Roman. But my support group helped me realize that it's not playing with Roman - it's playing Legos with Roman that I can't stand. I would play card games, baseball, what have you... but I just can't stand role-playing stuff with him. This stretches all the way back to Thomas the Tank Engine. Perhaps because I always did it by myself, I don't get the need to constantly have someone interacting. But anything I could do now with Roman is hampered by the 2-year-old wanting in on it, too.

So I realized that my summer is going to be one of those. Charlie will demand more of my attention when it's the two of them playing... and when he naps, Roman will need my undivided attention. Which leaves not much leftover for say, reading a few pages in a book or doing some Internet surfing to calm my brain. I think it'll be the kind of summer where I dread it, but in the end will find it was one of the most enjoyable because I'll be immersed with the boys. I mean, they're both at an age where we can do fun things - Charlie will "get" and learn so much from what we do, and Roman is so much more intelligent every year. I just need to find activities where both of them won't wear me out!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Finding a decent babysitter

Who wouldn't babysit for this kid? What a mug.

Since we go to therapy every Tuesday evening (not to mention every other Monday Doug golfs & I have support group), we have had to find a babysitter for Charlie who was willing to keep the weekly date. Our people of choice are jobless teens from our church. We started with Mike, who was successful for many months until he got a job. Darn this economy! We moved on to his brother, who only worked out for a couple weeks until HE got a job. Luckily we were tipped off to another church family whose eldest son is also jobless & interested in babysitting. He has been with us about 6 weeks now and is working out well. We did have a conflict this week, so he introduced us to his girlfriend Anna, who came with him last week & then sat for Charlie tonight. And of all the sitters we've had, Charlie seems to have fallen for Anna.

We had been wanting to encourage boys (as you may have noticed) because Roman especially likes to play "boy" stuff & we thought it'd be good. But Charlie is still in the crush stage I think, and Anna seems to fit the bill. He talked about her for days last week, and when she came tonight she earned the coveted "Anna, come!" complete with hand gesture to call her over to play. He grinned at her, said "Anna play!" and all was right with the world.

The problem lies herein - because we have a sitter once weekly, sometimes twice, for "business" we feel slightly guilty about going out on our own for pleasure. A babysitter for a third night in a week? Not even to mention the price. Not to mention that we would like to start going out occasionally with just Charlie and doing things with him. Roman said he wouldn't mind that which is curious - until we realized that he has fallen under Anna's spell too. But who wouldn't fall for our Russian gang member here? :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When I just can't explain it.

I have to steal words from others to get you in the emotional place to understand our relationship with Roman. This is courtesy of our therapist, who posted this as a preview to an article she sent a group of us:

I know you have heard… “He’s just so cute and seems so sweet.” Or, “She behaves so wonderfully for her teacher.” Better yet, “I don’t ever see any misbehavior!” Comments such as these, for a parent struggling to develop a relationship with an attach disturbed child, is not just a slap in the face but reaches inside and takes a tight hold on those growing roots of fear. “It must be me?” “What am I doing wrong?” How do you explain this phenomenon, this abstract concept of ‘being attached’? How do you explain that what is being experienced when rebuffed by a child, your child, is something nearly unexplainable? How do you express the intimate loneliness, the loss of reciprocity so innate that it should be effortless?

Roman wants me so badly that he pushes me away. I'm sure that only makes sense to a few of you reading. He hates needing a mom - and he hates having to depend on parents. He has verbalized to me, in deep sobbing moments, that when I get angry at him he expects me to get rid of him. He gets so emotional, and so "over the edge" with his emotions, that he told us tonight he felt like he was going to die (in the throes of a rage) because his emotions were so strong. It's hard trying to parent a child like this. It's exhausting... it's lonely...

It's a lot of work. Imagine planning for an emotional outburst a week before Event A happens. Or some random change in the schedule means a half-hour meltdown & helping him deal with it later. I know you can't, gentle readers. But we (all of us) as parents of attachment-issue kids begin to suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ourselves. We emotionally flinch when we hear a tone of voice or certain words. We avoid doing things that "regular" families do because we know what it would mean later (grocery store? Too stimulating! Something unusual or special on a school night? Dysregulation for 2 days afterward).

So sure, we smile & say everything's fine & we're doing okay. Because I know my attempts at trying to explain life with Roman will never make sense to others.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

a grocery store for working parents

I have just concocted a new business idea. A grocery store for working parents that labels their aisles a little more clearly. I just spent 15 minutes wandering around Kroger because I couldn't find Hamburger Helper. Why the heck is it in the "canned goods & rice" aisle? Another pet peeve is tomato sauce vs. pizza sauce vs. spaghetti sauce. Why can't they all be in the same place? Tomato sauce is in the canned vegetable aisle, while spaghetti sauce is near the pasta, and pizza sauce - sometimes I can't even find it. And don't even get me started on Manwich or canned chili.

I think they should label things more obviously. "Boxed dinners" aisle. This would include mac & cheese, Hamburger Helper, etc. How about a "Cans & Jars" aisle, so there's only one place I need to go? The "Food to pack in a lunch" aisle would include pb & j, those to-go cups of fruit, applesauce, etc.

I think this would be a hit. I can't be the only one whose brain organizes this way, am I? And people wonder why Doug does the grocery shopping around here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Out of sight, out of mind

Man, has it been awhile since I've been here. I think about posting every few days but am so exhausted. End of the school year, students had projects I was furiously grading, you know... excuses, excuses. Here are the highlights of the last couple weeks:

Charlie can drink out of a regular cup. He's very proud of himself, too.
Charlie also loves to eat his boogers. Complete with a satisfied "Mmm!" as he sticks his finger in his mouth.
We went to the Blossomtime Parade in my hometown a couple weekends ago and Charlie loved it. He appeared to like the floats best, as well as the characters in the cars like Elmo, Big Bird, & Ronald McDonald.
Charlie would survive on oatmeal if we let him. It's his request for every meal. Apple Cinnamon or Dinosaur Eggs (maple/brown sugar). He even dreams about it - we heard him call out the other night in his sleep, "oatmeal!"
His greatest desire is to be outside in the backyard. Not even the suggestion of a bath will bring him inside anymore.
He adores his big brother & imitates absolutely everything he does, and says. Which is sometimes pretty amusing.

Ro started coach-pitch baseball last weekend & even got a hit. He wants to go practice in the backyard every evening now, and he prefers to bat. Still struggles with throwing & catching. This works out well since little brother wants to be outside as well.
Roman has worked out a way to play Quidditch (a game in Harry Potter) in our backyard complete with goal areas, pretend brooms, Quaffle & Bludger. Haven't figured out how to get the Snitch to fly yet.
Roman has finally branched out into cheeseburgers from fast-food restaurants.
His best buddy, who lived across the road, moved to a different neighborhood last weekend. This has caused much sorrow for Roman & a slightly challenging adjustment in our home life.
Ro's favorite part about the parade was the Indianapolis Police motorcycle precision team.
School continues to go well for Ro, and he gets a "good behavior" stamp every day now.

As for Doug and I? We celebrated 10 years of wedded bliss last Thursday. We went out to dinner without kids, and have made plans to get away for TWO WHOLE NIGHTS in August without the kids. That will be the first time since mid-2004. Yeah, I think it's time.

Golf season has started for Doug and he happily plays one night a week. He tested for his green belt in tang soo do this past weekend & passed! So he's officially "6th gup." He's also doing serious research into concrete & garage prices, as we have to apply for a variance to our city to build a 2-staller.

Me, I am close to counting the days until summer vacation. It's been a rough second semester and the 8th graders have gone off the edge - they're checked out. Because of strange retirement goings-on in the state legislature it's been difficult for my principal to do a schedule for next year, but from what I hear I will have it's not bad. Still on a cart, though. I sure would love to have a room again. Next year will be my 7th year on a cart. Now that swimming is over I've been branching out into crafts again. Am considering taking up needlepoint (less concentration with kids than cross-stitch) and am happily playing with scrapping & card templates on the computer.