Monday, November 30, 2009

Mommy Makeover Monday - 'Tis the Season

Well, it's Christmas time once again. Can you believe it?

Our tree is up and decorated. Wreath is on the door. Lights on the house. And the kids are ready to start the countdown until the big day.
In fact, the morning after we put the tree up, Samuel ran out looking for the presents. Uh-oh. We had a tough time teaching both him and Elisabeth the difference between "Christmas time" and "Christmas morning." And when we got the calendar and showed him exactly how many days he still had to wait before it was time to open presents, he was about in tears. Poor little boy. Hopefully, starting the candy Advent calendar tomorrow will help them visualize and understand how much time there is between now and then.

Yesterday was the 1st Advent Sunday, though. One of my favorite traditions that I picked up during my time in Germany is the Advent Sundays. They typically have a wreath with 4 candles (I finally got one last year!) and the 4 Sundays before Christmas, they light the candles (1 the first Sunday, 2 the next and so on) and eat treats and sing carols, etc. I really like spreading out our Christmas celebrations over these Sundays instead of trying to do everything on Christmas eve, for instance. And I think it makes the wait a little more manageable - the 4 weeks and 4 candles seem to go by much more quickly than counting every single day.

We typically make hot chocolate, light the candles and sit around the table and sing Christmas songs. Then we have some sort of activity. Writing cards, going to look at lights, making cookies, and decorating the tree have all been incorporated into our Advent activities.

So, for MMM today I just wanted to talk about Your Favorite Traditions or Things To Do for Christmas. What makes Christmas time meaningful to you? What's one thing you have to do every year? What do your kids love the most? (well, besides the presents)
What do you do to try to diminish the "gimmes"? What would be your Best Idea for someone new to celebrating Christmas (hypothetically)?
Really, any ideas at all.
Do you make and deliver cookies? Do you do Secret Santa in your family? Do you do service?
Do you try to stay home as much as possible? Do you skip the whole thing?
Even if you think all the things you do are the same things that everyone does, please share an idea! (or 2, or 3, or more) :)
Thank you muchly.

(and now that I have successfully completed NaBloPoMo, I may take a break for a day or so. Phew!! Aren't you glad? - No, don't answer that.
Anyway - Happy December Tomorrow!! Let the fun begin!)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Take a Hike

Yesterday Zac and I decided to take the kids for a hike up the hill by our house to get out and get some fresh air for a little bit. Samuel pretty much complained the whole time that it was "windy" and he wanted to turn around and go home. Elisabeth trotted along happily by Zac. And Abigail and Isaac hiked ahead and kept an eye out for cacti and deer droppings (to make things interesting).We helped the kids identify the trees and plants in the area (fairly easy, since it mostly consists of sagebrush and junipers. Plus some tumbleweed here and there).

We admired the view from the top of the hill (that's our house there directly down in that spot between the junipers).

And I took pictures of interesting fungi growing on rocks. (can anybody identify them? I don't know my fungi)

We reached a flat spot on he way down that seemed like a good place to let the kids explore for awhile (remembering our intent to let the kids explore outside more).
But then Samuel tripped over a rock and fell with his hand on a cactus, the thorns going through his gloves and into his palm in about 5 spots. OUCH!!!
And you know it's as the saying the goes, it's all fun and games until somebody falls on a cactus.

And that was the end of our hike.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

tonight . . .

I caught a glance of this view out of Elisabeth's window as I shut her curtain, and I just had to go out and see if I could capture it.
Enjoy :)



(it's a flowering pear tree, in case anyone is wondering)

Friday, November 27, 2009

gobble, gobble

Here are some pics of Abigail starring as Tom Tukey in The Amazing Turkey Play, written and directed by Abigail's best friend Allie C.















The dad chases the turkey around to try to kill it for Thanksgiving, but the turkey outruns him and they end up inviting the turkey to join them for dinner "in an unexpected way."

She got to recite this little poem twice:

"I am a turkey, a funny bird

my head goes wobble, wobble

and all I say is just one word

Gobble, gobble, gobble!!!"

It was very cute and well done. All the kids did such a great job!

And I had a clip of the video I was going to post, but blogger isn't cooperating. Sorry. :(

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Thursday


























Need I say more??
We had a lovely Thanksgiving.
So thankful for wonderful family near and far. Wish we could be closer to everyone to spend more fun holiday time together. We really do.
(PS -Zac and Abigail ran a 4.5 mile Turkey Trot this morning. yay for them!) :)
Hope you had a great day, as well.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

note to self

Just a little word to the wise.

No, you cannot schedule all 4 kids dentists' appointments at the same time as both yours and your spouse's check-ups. Just don't.

Because you might just spend all your time in the dentist chair wondering who is watching the little ones in the lobby and wondering how their appts. went, and trying to keep everyone entertained until finally, 2 and 1/2 hours later, you will all be done at last and leave wondering how all the kids' teeth are and why in the world did that take so long anyway?!?!
Phew!!

So don't do that again.

But be glad for free ice cream cones courtesy of the dentist, and only one cavity to be filled. I suppose that's good news.

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!!
Tonight we will be scrambling to finish cleaning the house, and Zac is making a pumpkin pie . . . and then I'll check my list and see what's up next. Wish us luck

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

turkeys and teeth

Well, not much to say today.

I finally got to watch a video of Abigail in The Amazing Turkey Play that I missed on Sat. Hopefully I'll be able to post a clip of it soon (the full version seemed a little too long for the blog). It was pretty hilarious and both Zac and I are amazed by how comfortable she seems to be up on stage. When we ask her if she's nervous, she just says "well, I've done it before, so not really."

This morning I was able to go to Isaac's school Thanksgiving Party. They did presentations about different historical topics related to the pilgrims, Indians, etc. Then they all made cornstalk dolls, which was actually rather difficult and confusing. Then they got to eat a "feast" of finger foods and pumpkin pie. Fun, fun!

We came home, ate lunch, and then I took Abigail and Isaac to the orthodontist. Isaac was very relieved that he said he won't need anything until about age 12 or 13, when he will probably need braces. Abigail, on the other hand, will most likely be getting braces next fall (if we can figure out a way to pay for it). YIKES!

And tomorrow all 6 of us have dentist appointments. Now, that should be interesting.

I know this is mostly boring news. A post a day is quite a challenge. (6 more days to go, I can do this). :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mommy Makeover monday -Where does the Wayward Footwear Go?

(title stolen from a song by The Bobs)

(not my socks. photo found on flickr)

Or we could call it The Case of the Missing Socks. I don't know why it is exactly. We each have 2 feet, we wear 2 socks, the said 2 socks get put in the laundry, the laundry gets washed, the laundry gets dried, and then somehow when the laundry gets folded, there are all these lonely socks without their beloved partners. Unmatched. Alone. And the problem begins.
At least in our house. Because, after almost 12 yrs of marriage, of adapting and compromising and adjusting to differences, Zac and I still fundamentally disagree with the right course of action to take with these socks. Indeed.

Zac is of the opinion that the unmatched sock should be put away in the rightful owner's sock drawer and that the wayward match will then someday make it's way to the same fate and then, while scrounging through the sock drawer someday, the owner will have a miraculous moment of "ah-ha! These 2 socks match!" and will happily put them on and the cycle will begin again.

I, on the other hand, grew up with an ominous pile of "unmatched socks" that we would periodically sort and hope that the matches have made their way there as well and then they are happily reunited and then returned to the sock drawer. I also hold a firm (although perhaps misguided) belief that the loner sock is most probably hiding out in the next load of laundry and so will very soon be washed and dried and thrown in the clean clothes pile. So if I leave the unmatched socks in a designated laundry basket that I use to unload the clean clothes from the dryer, then eventually, all our sock problems will be resolved.

So, in some of our more irritable moments, I will sometimes be annoyed with the unmatched socks I find in the sock drawers as I scramble to get children dressed and out the door. And Zac will be annoyed with the basket of "unmatchables" that I leave in the laundry room.

So, help us out here.
What do you do with the unmatched socks in your house???

Or do you solve this problem by being one of those organized folks who use things like clips to keep the pairs together in the wash, or put each persons' socks in their own designated color-coded mesh bag, so there is none of this matching business to fuss with?? I have heard of such things.

Tell me about the wayward footwear in your household, if you would please. Thanks, I appreciate it. :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Did you ever have to make up your mind? (let's talk about New Moon)

*******SPOILER ALERT********
Don't Read This If You Aren't Yet Prepared to Discuss the Book/Movie
(come back again and discuss with us after you've seen/read it) :)


Oh, decisions, decisions. Poor Bella. Poor Jacob. Oh poor Edward, too. I feel for them. I do. Life is tough when you think you love more than one guy.

So, everytime I think about this movie, this Lovin' Spoonful song starts running through my head:

Did you ever have to make up your mind
Pick up on one and leave the other behind
It's not often easy and not often kind
Did you ever have to make up your mind

Did you ever have to finally decide
Say yes to one and let the other one ride
There's so many changes and tears you must hide
Did you ever have to finally decide

- The Lovin' Spoonful


(and here it is in case you aren't familiar with it - Enjoy)



Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Let's do a little Twilight recap, just for fun (and yes I know it's silly and immature to even spend this much time writing a blog post about this whole thing. But I don't think I spend nearly enough time in my days being silly and immature, so I'm just going to go with it, thank you very much. You can just play along - or not).

So there's Bella. Who thinks she loves the unbelievably gorgeous vampire Edward (her words, not mine). And he decides that rather than put her at risk of being killed by his fellow vampires (or himself) at some point in time, he will convince her their relationship is over, disappear forever, and let her start over in a new life.

Smart move, Edward. I think this was a rather mature and responsible decision, really. Because wouldn't she really be better off not loving a vampire? C'mon now, in all reality, yes, yes, she would. Admit it.

But she is convinced he is her ONE TRUE LOVE. So of course she can't live without him. So she falls into a deep depression with his absence.

Then there's Jacob. The sweet young boy who has always had a thing for Bella. And she starts hanging out with him (albeit in a twisted risk-seeking venture to get more hallucinogenic visitations from Edward) - but they start to develop a true friendship. Not this "oh, my gosh, you are so hot I can hardly control myself"-type relationship (as with Edward) - but a true spending time together, talking, getting to know each other-type relationship.

Just so happens he's a werewolf. And you know, these werewolves and vampires just never can get along.

Now, I won't really get into the Team Jacob and Team Edward debates. Whether you like Hot or Cold, Fur or Fangs and so on.

But. I sympathized with Jacob. And I thought they would have a more normal life and a more functional relationship together than Bella and Edward. Afterall, she wouldn't have to sell her soul and her mortality to be with him. And they were actually friends, which to my mind is more important than the whole hot and heavy lustful-thing. Call me crazy.

But here's the deal. I think New Moon was my favorite of the books (maybe - it's been so long since I've read them, I've forgotten a lot and seem to be mixing up the details of what happens exactly in which book). But what I liked about it was that Bella's heartache seemed real to me (more so in the book than the movie). And I like when the emotions feel raw and real in a book I'm reading. Maybe I'm just a little bit masochistic, but I can identify with pain. And, I can identify a little with the tortured torn emotions of thinking that you have a crush on 2 different boys, that you like them, maybe even love them both (or what love is to a teenager). I'll spare you the details. But am I only one who has been in those shoes?

Thinking maybe one can just be a friend, but knowing you really feel a little more than just friendship. And not really sure which one you want to be with, if you were forced to choose. Or knowing which one you really want but still not wanting to lose the other. Well, I guess Bella is pretty certain which one she'll choose (although I don't think the book makes it quite so clear). Anyway, she doesn't want to give either of them up.

I like the dramatic conflict and tension of it all. And I think the fact of the matter is that you always have to choose. You can't have them both. At least not both the way they want. Someone has to end up hurt. It's just the way it is. Oh, these twisted love triangles.

So, no Bella. You don't get them both. Just make up your mind, girl.

And that's what I think New Moon is all about (and a lot of the next one, too). I liked it. (even more than the "romance" of Edward and Bella) :)

What do you think about it all?

Or do you, *gasp* want nothing to do with it at all?!?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Good news and Bad News

The good news:
we got a laptop. Our PC seemed to be on the fritz and we didn't want to take a chance of it dying without a replacement. This was the cheapest we could find and we used our Healthy Lifestyles money to buy it (oh yeah, getting paid to exercise is awesome!!). We are loving it (even if it isn't a mac - this was about 3x cheaper and was all we could afford).

Bad news:
Having to reinstall software, move files over etc etc. For instance, I was going to scan something in for my post today, but we haven't installed the scanner drivers yet. And for now, only one computer can use the internet. A router is the next thing to install and figure out. But anyway . . .

Good news:
I am going to see New Moon tonight with some ladies in the neighborhood!

Bad news:
I am going to miss Abigail in her Thanksgiving Turkey play that her best friend wrote and directed. Abigail is the playing the Turkey. In my defense, I bought my tickets for the movie before I even knew her play would be on this date, much less at the exact same time that I was leaving!!

Good news:
Today we did grocery shopping for the big turkey day and we have been trying to get the house cleaned up.

Bad news:
I have had this headache for 4 days now and I am not functioning optimally. I'm getting quite tired of having a headache actually.

So I think that's it.
Have a nice weekend!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Delicious-ness

I meant to include this in my thankful thursday but forgot about it until the kids were in bed last night and I was overcome again by this, my latest food obsession (everyone has those, right?).

We call this a tortilla doughnut. Zac introduced me to them years ago. And I think lately he is probably regretting that fact because I ask him to make me one almost every night (he's just so good at it!).

You take a flour tortilla, fry it on both sides in just a touch of canola oil (that makes it healthy, right?), then sprinkle with powdered sugar (my sprinkling got a little out of hand in the above example). It actually tastes quite a bit like funnel cake, I think. So yummy!! And it's perfect for when you are craving something sweet but have nothing sweet to eat in the house (for me this seems to be happening every night). But we seem to always have some tortillas on hand! Lucky me! It is also especially tasty with some hot cocoa or fruit tea.

So I am thankful for tortilla doughnuts. Anyone else tried this? If not, oh, you really should. Really.

And thanks for letting me share.
I'll try to think of something more thought-provoking another time. :)
(my head still hurts - yuck!)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:

1. warm socks
2. advil
3. indoor plumbing
4. good books
5. a great bookclub group to discuss good books
6. a comfy bed
7. naps
8. good deals
9. getting things in the mail
10. fruity herbal tea
11. this week's kids' homework projects are done!

You might be able to tell from this list, but I have a terrible headache today and I am considering how wonderful it would be to stay in bed and be cozy and warm all day. sigh. That's about all that's on my mind. Having a hard time getting my brain to work. Thinking hurts.
But I am still thankful for some things. That's good of me, right?

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

my thoughts exactly

Sometimes as I browse other blogs out in the blogosphere, I find things that express what I am thinking in a way better than I ever could. It's almost uncanny sometimes.

So today I thought I might share a few of them from the last week or so. (click on the blog names to mosy on over to take a look for yourself)

First:
Eyeblog
describes my feelings of when days just feel like a failure. And the days when the little things just have to suffice.

Second:
The Chocolate Chip Waffle
expresses the strange place I am in my life of having young kids, but no longer having babies. It's like I'm kicked out of the "pregnancy club," so to speak. And it's a sort of odd realization. Life is different.
And I am sure it will feel different again when we enter the "raising a teenager" club. (ooooh, yikes.)



Third:
The Olsson Observer
is an old friend whom I haven't seen since '96 when we both left on missions. Through the miracle that is FB, we found each other again and reconnected via blog-land. This post was actually written by her husband, but it gives perfect advice for dealing with crazy Christmas relative-greeting. Anyone with slightly dysfunctional families should find something useful in his tips and tricks. Personally I think I might go with the windex technique. Just give you a little squirt when you need it. :)
(I think it also might apply to other non-family crazies, too. What if I go to the Black Friday sales armed with my windex? Think people might get out of my way and let me snatch the last whatchamacallit that's a deal-too-good-to-pass-up if I do a little spritzing here and there?!? yeah, I think that might work.)



And finally:
5 Orange Potatoes
I discovered this site not long ago from a link from another friend's blog and I have been thoroughly enjoying all the great ideas of things to do with dried, pressed fall leaves. I never did find any wax to coat mine with. So now I've got my sights on these pressed leaf lanterns. So pretty, aren't they? I've just got to get some mod-podge now. (It's true, I'm so uncrafty I don't even have any of that stuff.)
Wal-Mart was out of it last week on our shopping trip. Of course.

So anyway - those are some fun, interesting, insightful, or otherwise noteworthy links for you today.
Where do you do your best blog stalking? Got any good suggestions for me?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November Skies




Just a few shots of what our trees are looking like right now.
Autumn is at its end. Winter is knocking at our doors. (Brrrrr . . . )

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mommy Makeover Monday - It's Time for Dinner!

Do you remember this?
Long long ago I started doing Mommy Makeover Monday, an idea I stole from a parenting magazine where they would give a mommy makeover, covering anything from fitness, life coaching, time management, clothes and make-up, child discipline, etc. Basically they would take anything that the mom could use help with and give her a life "makeover." So I started asking the questions to get help in the areas I would like to have for a makeover. That covers a lot of material. And my blog seemed like the perfect forum for a little community discussion on these issues. Lots of varied input and opinions. No need to feel inhibited by others' reactions.
But I got a bit tired of it and gave it up.

Now, with NaBloPoMo, I'm going to revisit it a little. Maybe at least for this month. To give me more to post about.

So, to start off, I wanted to address a small issue that I was thinking about last week.
Dinner.
More specifically why it seems that the only meal that we serve that all the kids agree on is pizza.
Anyone else have this problem?
All the kids but one like tacos.
Only 2 of the 4 like spaghetti.
One eats lasagna, the rest won't.
Zac and I like stir fry and none of the kids do.

So, how do you deal with this at your house? Or what did your parents do with you?

Our plan from the beginning has been that they can either eat what we fix, or they can make a peanut butter sandwich. So at least they aren't going to bed hungry. But I haven't really thought that forcing kids to eat what's placed before them is always a good idea. But I do know some families that have trained their kids to eat what they're given. Period. And sometimes I wish my kids would just do that.

And I admit, we did go through a stage (when Samuel was losing weight instead of gaining as a toddler and the Dr. was getting concerned), that we would fix anything at all that he would eat. Just so he would eat something. Because he had to gain weight!!

And frankly, I sometimes get tired of not being able to fix some of the meals that I would really like to eat because I know none of the kids will even touch it.
And I get tired of all the complaining. grrrrrrr . . . .

We did start a ticket reward system where the kids earn tickets for doing chores, behaving nicely, etc and then redeem the tickets for small prizes, or activities. We decided they would get one ticket for sitting at the table, behaving politely and not complaining about anything. And then another additional ticket for actually eating at least a little of every food we put on the table.
But it doesn't seem to really be improving things as much as we would like.

So what do you do?
Do you just fix things you know your kids like?
How do you get them to try new things?
Do they have to eat whatever you serve them?
Please share.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Post for the day

In keeping with NaBloPoMo, I'm trying to post everyday.

Today I just don't have much to say other than it's been a frustrating, discouraging, exasperating day and I just don't want to be a mom anymore for today.

Ever have those days?

I won't bore you with the details (surprised, aren't you?). But I really won't.

ugh, ugh, ugh . . .

I guess I can leave you with this question -
if you could recommend one thing I could do to make this blog better, what would it be? (please keep it to just one, thanks) Anything at all. Really.
alright, g'bye.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Curtains

How about a theater review for a nice Saturday post?

My aunt and uncle have season tickets to the Hale Centre Theater in SLC for themselves and their kids and spouses. My mom also gets to go occasionally. And since my cousin and her husband and family recently moved out of state, their tickets for last night were offered to me and Zac! Wahoo! Date night!! (we don't go out on dates nearly enough, really)

The play was Curtains (click here for more info on the play and the theater, if you're interested. There is a very good slide show of different scenes from the show which you may like to see). It was a murder-mystery musical about a stage cast ("show people") and a murder that takes place on stage on opening night. They are then quarantined to the theater while an investigation takes place. And there is romance, and comedy, and lots of funny caricatures of what life "behind the scenes" is like for show people. Anyway - it was a lot of fun. And it was also fun to see my cousins that I don't see often, and my mom, and aunt and uncle. We all went out to eat together beforehand. My niece watched the kids for us so that we could go. And Zac and I were just so excited to get out by ourselves and do something fun!

So, well, that's it for today. :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

life as a mom

Last night, in the midst of a parenting crisis of mine (Zac being out of town, realizing Abigail had left about half of her homework assignments at school, Samuel and Elisabeth insisting on running around the house shutting off all the lights and throwing things at each other, and me very quickly losing all of my patience, etc. etc. etc), Isaac came and found me where I hid for a moment in my room, and handed me this note.

It said:

Dear Mommy,
I love you so much and I love that you feed us good foods and once in a while let us get treats. I'm glad that you're my mom Mommy I love you.

(and don't forget: make hot cocoa)

(can you make something delicious today?)

- Isaac

It was very very sweet. I think he could tell I was on the brink of losing it big time. But then, also, did you notice that even after such sweet words of love, he was still making more requests of me?

I suppose he couldn't help himself.
I'm still the mom, after all.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful that:

- all of our misc. afterschool activities are nearby. Piano lessons, scouts, violin, ballet, church activities, all of it is within a 2 min drive (approx) from our house. How glad I am that I don't have to be driving very far when I am shuttling the kids here, there and everywhere.

- the yearly IEP meeting is over. I can breathe a little easier now.

- things worked out with the car issues we were having. Or at least Zac managed a way to get where he needed to go. The car is in the shop. But so it goes.

- I am thankful for liquid dishwasher detergent. Where have you been all my life? After our dishwasher started having drainage problems and Zac took apart the dishwasher components and scraped off 7 yrs. of detergent buildup, we are happy to have finally discovered liquid that does not leave a residue. (I know, simple pleasures)

- Thankful for my kids. They are good, talented, and terrific kids - even though sometimes I find it hard to remember.

- And I am so thankful for Zac. I don't know what I would do without him. He has been out of town and every day just feels so much harder knowing he won't be home at 5:30.

That's it.
And you?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Annual IEP Meeting and other school stuff

Well, well.
This morning I met at the school for Samuel's annual IEP review. Can I just tell you how stressful those things are for me? No, I don't think I can. I'll try though. Probably for at least a week before, my stomach knots every time I think of it. This is the meeting where the "team" (me, his teacher, speech therapist, principal, and general ed teacher) decide what he will be working on for the next year. It is also the time to make requests for more or different services, when placement is decided, etc etc. And the more I've actually learned about HOW an IEP meeting is supposed to go - the more nervous I get about it. Because things are not always actually done the way they are supposed to. And I have all these "legal rights" as a parent of a child with disabilities that I am supposed to make sure they are respecting. And I am supposed to fight for whatever things they aren't doing that legally they are supposed to do. And I am supposed to be "my child's best advocate" and make sure he is getting all the help he needs to succeed, etc etc. And it just becomes overwhelming to me.

I am not one who likes to put up a fight. I have learned a lot in the last 5 years that we have been receiving special services, but I still feel like such a novice. I feel like I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know if I'm doing things right. I don't know if the goals we set are the goals we should have. I don't know if they are providing all the help Samuel needs and deserves. I don't know if I should fight more. I just don't know.

I am becoming more comfortable with his teachers, though. I've known the speech therapist since I had Abigail assessed, oh about 7 years ago or so. And then Isaac met with her and was assessed. And then Samuel met with her for awhile before he was placed in the special needs preschool (and had a different therapist there). But at least she is a very familiar face to me. She has known of Samuel since he was 3 and so she can see the progress he has or hasn't made.

Anyway - the meeting went well, I think. Although I didn't get more speech for him, as I had hoped for. He's been working on some of the same speech goals for about 2 yrs now!! It feels like forever. But they say he's "making progress" - so as long as he's making progress, that is sufficient for them not to justify more speech therapy. But, it just feels like the progress is soooooo sloooooow. It's hard.

But I am happy that he is opening up a little more and showing some of his goofy personality. He is participating at school and plays freely at recess. All good things. All things he wasn't necessarily doing last year.

Still so many unknowns. His diagnosis of "developmental delay" is still so vague. Because he is behind in some of his reading and math - but he's too young for them to say why (whether it's a learning disability or not). Still can't tell me where they think he will be a year from now. What school, what kind of class, what kind of services. What will he need? Will he be caught up? Will he always need help? I just want to know. I want to know something. I need to know something more.

So I get home from these meetings and I need to decompress a little. I feel so relieved for it to be over. But then I question again - did I do enough? Did I talk about everything I wanted to? Are these teachers really on my team? Do they all really want to do what's best for Samuel? Or are they just trying to do the least amount that they can get away with. I hope it's the former. I hope.

In other school news, I have started the fight to get Isaac back in speech therapy (that they kicked him out of last year, even though he had not met his IEP goals). Or at least I am fighting to get them to show me more specific assessment data than just observation that they don't think he needs it. So that is in process.

And I am going to have to start the fight to get some accomodations for Abigail in her classes. Need to go back to the Dr. and get a letter stating her diagnosis (innattentive-ADD). I have been torn about whether to really have her "labeled" - with all that that implies.
But I really do feel that if we can get her help to do better, than that would be preferable to just have her floundering along and trying her best to manage on her own. I don't know. It's such a complicated thing.
Some people are so opposed to having a child labeled.
Some people are such strong advocates for getting the help the child needs.

I guess that's a topic for another day. 3 kids with current or potential IEP's is just a wee bit overwhelming to me. I'm a bit of a wimp sometimes though, I think.
And Elisabeth - well, I'm just about to the point of getting her evaluated, too. Because she is just so incredibly difficult sometimes, it amazes me. I have never seen a child throw such tantrums for such a long time. Really.
But then I think, well, maybe if I think all 4 of my kids have some sort of issue, maybe it really is just me with the issues. I know I already have issues. Did I just pass them all to them? Or am I just seeing things that aren't there?? Am I just going crazy?!?! Am I only have problems with them because I can't handle them and it's all my fault?

Oh well.
Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pictures of the Poetry Project in Progress

Just in case I can't think of anything else to post for the day, here are the pics of my poetry piles. :)
Pretty pleasant, I would say.
And plentiful.
But before my P's get positively pugnacious, I'm going to pass.
(There now, wasn't that playful?!)
:)

Monday, November 9, 2009

BIG Project!

Some of you may know that I used to write poetry - a lot. I always like to say that for what I lacked in quality, I made up for in quantity (and I still do - this blog is evidence). haha.
I contributed many many many poems to our high school literary magazine, and worked as co-editor my senior year. I also did 2 years of a creative writing independent study (since it wasn't offered as a course at my school) - and this required me to write a lot, a lot, a lot.

So, I've had this box full of ALL my originals. Some I've thought were quite good. Others were downright silliness. Many were full of boy crazy heartache, teen angst, misery and other hormonal madness which comes with the territory of moody teenage girls. My oh my oh my.

But I got it into my head many years ago that this would make a somewhat interesting, although admittedly skewed, view of my life history if I were to make a compilation of ALL OF IT chronologically (because, after all, I didn't write poems about everything - almost, but not exactly). A sort of "story of my life through the poems I wrote."

I started with this monstrous project a few years ago. Maybe 5 years? I typed up 50 of my poems and put them in a huge 3-inch 3 ring binder and gave it to Zac for Christmas with the intention that I would eventually get all my stuff typed up and put in sheet protectors in the binder.

Well. That was before I joined the wonderful world of blogging. And before I discovered such marvelous tools such as mypublisher.com and blurb.com where you can, indeed, publish your own book. What more could a closet poet want!!!

So, I've been thinking about all the new found options this brings me over the last couple years - but my box has continued to overwhelm me with it's prospects. Really, there are probably hundreds of lame and pathetic poetic attempts in my box that I would want to include from my pre-adolescent years to present day (being nothing if not thorough).

And then, last week I got a notice from a friend here (and former neighbor) who as done just that. Shelley has taken all her poems from her youth to present and put them on a blog. And I must say she inspired me to revisit this little (little!?! ha!) project of mine.

I've started the blog. It's quite exciting to me. And if and when I decide to share, I will be sure to let you know. Some are really quite embarrassing and I haven't decided yet if I am really willing to let curious eyes glimpse into my bare naked soul (yikes).

But anyway - just wanted to share the excitement over starting (and restarting) a big project that has been on my list of goals for years and years. I had some pictures I took of "the box" and some of the old notebooks I have from middle school (!) - but I haven't been able to get them uploaded right now. Maybe I'll share those later.

What about you? Do you have any big projects you've been meaning to get around to?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

thoughts about Phoebe in Wonderland

My sister recommended this movie to us awhile back, thinking that we might like it as it relates somewhat to our experiences with Samuel. We finally watched it last night. And it is one of those movies that is almost painful to watch, it hits so close to home. But it was really very good and I would recommend it highly.

Here is the synopsis from the Rotten Tomatoes movie review website:

Synopsis: So much of what constitutes psychological inquiry in cinema is overly simplistic, boiling down the complexity of behavior to clich├ęs. So it’s exceptionally gratifying, when dealing with subjects as difficult as parenting and growing up, to find as rich an inquiry as Daniel Barnz’s remarkable Phoebe in Wonderland. This is at once a tale of Phoebe (Elle Fanning), a young girl who is different, and a portrait of her mother (Felicity Huffman), a woman caught between trying to raise a child and striving for success in an academic career, while feeling a failure in both. It also includes an unusually gifted, but peculiar, educator—a drama teacher (Patricia Clarkson), who is directing the school production of Alice in Wonderland, which Phoebe longs to be part of. As talented and exceptional as Phoebe appears to be, she is also increasingly far away, retreating into fantasy, and frustrating her parents and teachers. As an examination of normalcy and madness, this is realistic and cerebral storytelling, but it is also extravagantly magical, a metaphorical fable that examines childhood, our attempts to understand it, and the way we, as parents and teachers, navigate its treacherous shoals. A film full of strangeness, exhilarating moments of realization, and painfully real revelations, Phoebe in Wonderland is an honest and thoughtful work that is not to be missed. --© Sundance Film Festival

The things that I related to and thought were particularly interesting were:

- how the mother was reluctant to have her child "labeled" - the difference between what is just imagination and being unique, and what is a symptom of a "disorder." You all know I constantly struggle between the difference between accepting a child for his differences, and wanting to "fix" or "treat" or help or change a child for the better. When to celebrate the little quirks that make us all unique human beings, and when to say that is just not "normal," something is wrong - and we need to help them, we need to intervene to help them live to their potential.

- the sometimes thin line that divides normal behavior from disordered behavior. We sometimes hear people saying "well, we all have a little bit of ADHD", or autism, or depression, or OCD, or whatever - but because we all sometimes display bits and pieces of the symptoms, does not mean we have a "touch" of the disorder. No. To be labeled a disorder means it is causing a significant problem in your day to day functioning. Period.

- the mother's guilt and blame that she felt. How many times do we think that our children might be different, behave differently, be different, if we had done things differently? And how many times is it just completely out of our control, whether we want to admit that or not.

- the feelings of the sibling, having a sibling who is different. The burden of having to explain why your sibling doesn't behave like other kids, the desire to have a different sibling. The jealousy of the attention that one gets because they have "problems."

- how difficult it is to really get to know our children deeply and to truly understand what is going on in their heads. And the feelings of inadequacy and failure when we just can't understand. The mysteries of childhood - how close and how far away it feels to us as grown ups.

- the confusion, conflicted feelings, etc etc
It was all very very familiar.

Anyway - great movie, I thought, even if maybe these things wouldn't mean as much to you as they did to me. Have you seen it? What did you think?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

sunny days

The weather was so gorgeous this week, the other day I took the kids outside in our yard for the entire afternoon. Even though I wasn't really feeling very well (headache, sore throat), I took out a blanket and my pillow and laid on the grass while Samuel and Elisabeth played. It was so nice.

This picture was taken from my perspective on the blanket. Isn't he a cutie?? :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

little miss Elisabeth is lucky to be alive

You know I like to share the stories of the crazy things my kids do. I do this because I am banking on these things actually being humorous someday. And also because writing them down gives me some distance from the experience and I can put it in better perspective. And when my kids have kids, I can go back and say, "yep, you were the same way! Serves you right!" And yes, sometimes I do just need a little commiseration.

Anyway - when I first started blogging 2 years ago (!) it was mostly Samuel that was giving me grief with his daily disasters. You may recall the time(s) he sprayed my entire kitchen with the sink sprayer, or when he painted his toys with shoe polish, or when he and Elisabeth tore the insulation out of the walls in the unfinished basement. Those were some of the most memorable incidents.

Well, thankfully, he has grown out of most of the destructiveness! WHEW!!
But what is not so nice - and came as somewhat of a surprise - is that miss Elisabeth has now stepped up to fill those naughty shoes. She's doing a pretty good job of it. I'm not sure if he just taught her so well by his example, or if it really just has something to do with being 3 (although the older kids did NOT do these things), or being the youngest, or having some "issues" we have yet to uncover, or what! I really don't know.

But let me tell you about some of her incidences from this week, just to illustrate what I mean:

First, she dug out the halloween make-up from the Halloween bucket that we haven't put away yet. And of course she decorated herself quite thoroughly, her arms, legs, face, etc. And she got it all over the carpet, too, of course. So I spent an afternoon scrubbing that out.

And then she found some play-doh and played with it in her room, unbeknownst to me. And she tore it into tiny tiny pieces and spread it all over her carpet. So amongst all her toys and stuff on her floor, there was orange play-doh sprinklings all over that I had to clean up.

Then I left Isaac with the 2 little ones for just 2 minutes while I drove Abigail to her violin lesson down the street. I returned to find Isaac standing on the garage door step waiting for me, and screaming hysterically at the top of his lungs. Because apparently in the 2 min that I thought they could stay alone and happily watch TV, Elisabeth climbed up onto the kitchen counter and tried to get up onto the fridge to try to get down the halloween candy that we had put up there. And she had slipped and fallen from the counter to the floor and Isaac was freaked out not knowing what to do. Lessons learned: Isaac is apparently not old enough to babysit for 2 min. And Elisabeth cannot be trusted to behave by herself for 2 min.

I learned that again the next day when I asked her if she could be good for a minute and play in her room so I could take a shower, to which she replied "yes, mommy." Oh she can seem so sweet and compliant.
I should know better.
But I went and got in the shower.
A few seconds later, I heard a huge rumbling and crash and then Elisabeth screaming. So of course, I grabbed my towel, jumped from the shower dripping wet and went out to find that she had tipped over my entire 6-drawer chest of drawers onto herself. LUCKILY, only her one foot was pinned by one of the drawers (and is fine) and she was otherwise unharmed. Unbelievable, really, considering the stacks of books on top of the dresser, and a lamp, alarm clock, and several drawers emptied onto the floor.
I am not entirely sure what happened. But I do know she has tried to climb up the dresser front using the handles as footholds in the past.
And I could tell from putting the drawers back together that she had been doing some rearranging of my jewelry in the top drawer. ARRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!
I think I was still shaking several hours later (after I finished my shower). Because that could have been a lot worse than it was. I don't even like to think about what COULD have happened.

So, you see, little miss Elisabeth is lucky to be alive (literally) because she seems bound and determined to hurt herself one way or another.
And if it doesn't come to that, sometimes I think I might just kill her (figuratively, of course).
If we both survive her childhood, it will be a miracle.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday

With the Thanksgiving Season upon us, I decided that it might be nice to take each thursday this month and think of the things I am thankful for that week. It is sometimes refreshing to think of all the things I have to be grateful for, the little things that make me happy as well as the big things.

So here are some of the things I am thankful for this week:

- the gorgeous fall weather. It's been sunny and in the 60's which I just love. I just can't even tell you how happy it makes me.

- I planted somewhere around 80 spring flower bulbs this week. I can't wait to see them blossom!

- My ankle is finally all better. Besides the 2 wks of being sick or caring for sick people, I have started walking for exercise again and that is nice. Someday, someday, I will slowly start running again, I hope. But I have to be super careful not to injure myself again.

- We were finally all well again this week! YAHOO!!! It has been nice to try to get back into a semi-normal daily routine. (Of course, now I think I am coming down with another cold - but let's just ignore that part)

- Zac and I have been finalizing our Christmas shopping for the kids!!! We have never ever gotten our shopping done this early, but it is quite exciting to look at the things we've gotten slowly over time in the mail and see that we are about done!

- Along with that, I am super thankful for swagbucks. I have earned about $40 or so in Amazon giftcards which we have been putting towards our Christmas shopping, usually $10 at a time. And it is great to get a free $10 discount off of just about every amazon purchase we've made! LOVE IT!!! :)
Go check it out:
http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/kjcase

- Samuel has been happy lately. And I am so glad to hear him laughing and giving me spontaneous hugs. He seems to be getting better behaved, for the most part, and I can't even tell you how grateful we are for that.

- We got a fun package from Grandpa Brown and Grandma Beth this week! We were all super excited.

- This morning I was thankful for my oatmeal with bananas and blueberries. Yum.

- Today is PAYDAY! Oh it is always such a relief when Payday rolls around. So thankful for Zac's job.

- And finally, I am thankful that Elisabeth did not seriously injure herself yesterday (more on that later, I promise). In all sincerity, sometimes I am just amazed we haven't had emergency room visits between her and Samuel's crazy antics (knock on wood).

So what are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

childhood memories of exploring outside

Well, a little bit ago my dad requested that I share some childhood memories on my blog. And, also going along with the Last Child in the Woods book that I recently read, I have been thinking a lot about some of the memories I have with nature from when I was a child. (and to do a post a day, I am committed to finally post these things I've been thinking of for a long time now. Sometimes I just need to ponder things for awhile, you know . . . )

But the book emphasizes how we make connections and feel attached to nature by having unstructured time to explore and just be in nature, and that is exactly what I remember most from my childhood.

Here are just some of the things I've been thinking of:

1. There was a dirt hillside up the street from my house that sloped down to the ditch by the road. My siblings and our friends somehow came up with the idea of sliding down the dirt into the ditch on our butts. By doing this repeatedly (day after day), it wore a pretty slick slide that got going pretty fast. I was about 8 or 9, maybe younger and I'm sure my mom really hated us coming home with dirt ground into the pants of our shorts, but we just loved it.

2. I also remember going on many hikes up the hills by where the power line easement went through by our house. There was a big slab of rock filled with fossils that we loved to climb and chisel out fossils, and a small cave formed from the rocks that we hid and played in.

3. The wooded lot next to our house was vacant for most of the time we lived there and it provided a forest to explore, trees to climb (and in our yard also). It was especially fun after a rain and it would become a virtual swamp to splash in. And in the winter, the swamp would freeze and we would ice skate (or slide in shoes) in between the trees.

4. I remember spending time braiding chains out of weeds that grew up along the gravel road across from our house and fashioning various kinds of "clothing" from them, namely belts, crowns, necklaces, etc.

5. I also have very fond memories of making an outdoor "house" in the trees by my friend Megan's house. I'm a little blurry on the details (this was probably around 4th grade), but I remember we somehow made a sink with a place for soap, and other little appliances and things, all made from sticks and leaves and other things we found in the woods, along with a heavy dose of vivid imaginations. :)

6. Our favorite thing to do in the fall was to rake the leaves into squares forming the floor plans of houses, different rooms, doorways etc. that we would then play in (and you were NOT allowed to step over the leaf pile walls instead of walking through the doorway - no way!). I also seem to remember that playing orphans had a lot to do with this. Might have been related to living in a house made of leaves, but who knows.

Anyway, this is just a small sampling of some of my very early nature memories. This doesn't include all the amazing memories I have of camping with my family and going to the beach. Especially when I was in high school, our trip up to Maine (whale watching and canoeing in the Adirondacks are among my all time favorites) or Cape Hatteras, NC. I have many many other great memories, but can't write them all, of course.

But what stuck out to me as I read the book and thought about my own memories was how much freedom I had as a child. We played outside almost all the time and roamed around, played in the ditches, collected tadpoles, etc etc. And I realized my kids just don't have that freedom, for whatever reasons. They are pretty much confined to our fenced backyard and they don't spend enough time out there as it is. It is interesting to think a little about how different times are now and why and whether or not we should try to put things back to how they were "back then." But Zac and I have committed to try to do more to get our kids to explore nature outside, to spend time to just take things in, to think, to enjoy and savor it (with and without us), and to feel "connected" to life outside.

What do you think? Do you have fond memories of playing outside? Do you think things are "different" now - and should they be?
Share your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Reading Round Up: October 2009

Here are the books I read and quick reviews:

1. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder
- Richard Louv

This book gave me a lot to think about in terms of how much freedom I give my children to roam outdoors and the difference between my childhood and theirs (for better or for worse). It was very interesting - but also a lot of political push that made the last part of the book go downhill for me.

2. Dracula
- Bram Stoker

Great Halloween read! And it was so interesting to compare this with other vampire stories I've read (esp Twilight). It's funny to me how each vampire story has it's own variation on how vampires work, i.e. in Dracula, the people get their blood sucked a little over time, then become vampires after they die.
Anyway, it was a bit more gory than I would usually prefer, but I had to add it to my "have-to-read-at-least-once-in-a-lifetime" list.

3. The Promise
- Chaim Potok

Very good - but I liked The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev better.

4. Troubling a Star
- Madeleine L'Engle

This was so different than other L'Engle books I've read. It's an adventure mystery! Good - but not my favorite L'Engle book.

5. Olive Kitteridge
- Elizabeth Strout

I didn't really care for this very much. I found it too disjointed and kind of blah. But I know a lot of other people really liked it.

6. Stuart Little
- E.B. White

okay, stick to the movie on this one. Stupid book.


7. Out of the Wild
- Sarah Beth Durst

The sequel to Into the Wild. A lot of fun and a good read! But if I had to choose, I would say I liked the first one better.

8. The Disapparation of James
- Anne Ursu

I really liked this one. Sometimes I like to judge a book by how much it affects me as I read it. If it feels real and "true" to me. If it gets to the core of emotions, or if it pricks something in me and makes me feel intensely, then I tend to like it. And that's what this one did for me. It was sort of heart-wrenching, as it is about the disappearance of a small boy and what the family (parents and little sister) go through afterwards in the search for him (fiction, of course) - so it may be too much for some. But I liked it.

9. A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
- Norman Maclean

I liked A River Runs Through It, but not so much the other stories. I was a little disappointed - I expected it somehow to be deeper or more detailed than the movie. But the movie is pretty true to the book. And I actually think I liked the movie more for all the beautiful scenery - it's not adequately described in the book. Or it didn't give me quite the same longing for living on a country river somewhere as the movie did.

But anyway - that's what I've been reading. How about you?!?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Things Missed - and NaBloPoMo

Well, today is the first day in about 2 weeks that I have sent all 3 school-age kids to school. Amazing. I think we are all on the mend at last.
And I was thinking back to all the things we had to cancel or miss in the past 2+ weeks of illnesses.

Here's the tally:

11 days missed of school (3 kids combined)
2 preschool sessions I was supposed to host
3 weeks of Sunday meetings
2 piano lessons
1 violin lesson
1 study hall I was supposed to volunteer for
1 mother-daughter dinner
1 birthday party
2 parent teacher conferences
1 cub scout den meeting
1 visiting teacher visit
1 class halloween party

(Not to mention 2 weeks of housework and general housekeeping that just has not gotten done. yikes!)

Although I will admit that sometimes it's nice to just cancel life and all outside commitments and obligations, it is also nice to be well again and be able to participate in life outside of our house.
We are also busy rescheduling some of the necessary cancelled meetings and catching up on all the missed school work, etc., which I do not particularly enjoy. Kind of feels like we had to press "pause" on our life for awhile and now we have to do a frantic "fast forward" to catch up to where everyone else in the world is.
Like, is it really November? Really?!?

And speaking of November, it is time once again for National Blog Posting Month, where all bloggers are invited to post Every Single Day! Wohoo! An excuse to babble and bore you all with mundane details and ramblings! yay! (as if I needed an excuse, I know)
So, you have many many postings to look forward to.

And also, just a reminder to those of you friends who have nifty blog rolls listed on the sides of your blogs: I have noticed that some of you (ok, almost all) have not updated your blog lists to include a link to our new blog address. And since I know this is merely because you have forgotten or just not gotten around to it, and NOT because you just don't like me anymore, this is just a friendly reminder that I think it would be really great if you included us again. :) It would really make me happy.
(Just remember not to include our last name, thanks!)

Oh and I will beg once more for comments while I'm at it. Please please please. It seems I am getting even less comments than usual lately, if that's even possible. So sad. :(

ok, I'm done groveling.
That's it for now.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009

Full moon on Halloween night!

carving pumpkins
Abigail as "the sleepy lady," Elisabeth as "little witch," Isaac as "Clifford the Big Red Dog," and Samuel for his second run as "C3PO."

And another pose with the pumpkins

We decided that since the weather was nice, and we would be outdoors and not in close contact with people, and not touching shared surfaces (just holding out treat bags), we thought they would all be ok to go trick or treating despite some lingering coughs. Isaac became dreadfully thirsty, though, and wanted to cut his treats short to go home and get a drink (whatever!) - so Zac took him and Elisabeth home after a quick run of our neighborhood (up and down 2 streets). Abigail, Samuel and I kept going for a few more houses. Samuel especially really wanted more and more candy!! Elisabeth was really cute this year shouting trick or treat and Happy Halloween to everyone we passed. And Zac and I realized that this is our first year where all the kids could walk on their own (not lugging a stroller) and not needing any help going up to peoples' doors. We've entered a new stage of trick-or-treating life! WOW! The next phase I suppose will be when Abigail wants to go out with groups of friends. That hasn't happened - yet!
Anyway - it was a fun Halloween. Hope yours was safe and fun, as well. :)
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