Sunday, November 08, 2009

Say what?

We are preparing for a hurricane in November. Not fair!

Right now my lovely hometown is right in the center of Ida's projected path cone. School has been canceled through Thursday (Bella's teacher was almost jubilant when she called to tell me). There's a run on ice and bottled water at the grocery stores, gas stations are mobbed, and insanity reigns. The good thing about hurricanes is that you do have the notice, but you have a lot of tough decisions to make, like whether or not to evacuate.

I'm not planning on leaving, although after Hurricane Ivan in 2004 I decided I would leave for a strong category 2 or higher. I was genuinely scared going through Ivan. We were in good spirits at first, but as the night progressed things got bad - there were leaks that turned into downpours, ceilings started collapsing, and the huge oak tree in the front year developed an ominous lean. I remember huddling in the hallway with my then two-year old little girl, praying, and being distracted by droplets of water on my face from yet another roof leak. We were running around pulling pictures off the wall, dragging furniture out of rooms whose ceilings had fallen, putting pots and pans under the contained was really scary. And we were lucky compared to some, compared to many, really.

Evacuating is a mixed bag - you can get out of town, but traffic can be horrible and, unless you're headed north, there's always the chance that the storm will change direction and you'll be driving into the bad weather. A neighbor of mine told me a horror story about getting stuck on the interstate trying to evacuate during Hurricane Opal, and trying to dodge tornadoes, drive with zero visibility, etc.

There's also the choice about battening down the hatches. How far do you go? For this storm, I'm going to take in the items on the patio and move things away from windows and doors (in case of wind-driven rain). You have to decide whether or not to board up windows, among other things. I am employed by a small business that sells high-end grand pianos and church organs, among other things. Preparing for a hurricane there is no fun. Lots of heavy things to put up on blocks, lots of moving and shifting and hoping for the best.

This will be a tense night. Things can change overnight, maybe for the better. Or maybe not. I'm thinking that we will get rain and blustery wind and hopefully that will be the end of it. I have to decide where to stay tomorrow night. Depending on how things look, we might go stay at my in-law's house. I don't really trust the construction of our apartments - if noise passes so freely between the walls, I can't help but wonder about wind and rain. Plus, at my in-law's house, I can be there to help should more roof issues arise. I don't know what my grandparents are planning to do, and I'm worried about that.

And I just saw that the weather channel is sending Jim Cantore here, which anyone who lives in a hurricane zone knows means that YOU ARE GOING TO GET HIT. Jim Cantore is like a hurricane magnet - where he goes, storms follow. Dang it.

I was going to start pulling things off the patio earlier and I encountered a snake. A small-ish snake, but still a snake, so I hastily retreated inside the house and decided the clearing the porch is my husband's job.

You just never know. But, having the notice is vastly preferable to just being slammed, so I shouldn't complain. Sigh. A hurricane in November. Boo! The upside: if we lose power, it won't be as hot. There we go. I'll cling to that while I'm watching the tropical update on the weather channel all night. If you pray, I know whoever is in the path of this hurricane would appreciate a word or two, so keep us (or whomever!) in mind.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm Silly

I have trouble sleeping. Well, that's not entirely true, I don't have problems sleeping, but I have problems getting to sleep. I can't just lie down and drift off, I have to do something to quiet my mind. Usually I read, but it has to be something I've read before. New books can't be bedtime books, because I end up devouring a new book in one sitting and then go to bed way too late.

So I read, and usually fall asleep with a book on my face. I was finding myself waking up in the wee hours of the morning, contorted in awkward positions on the bed or sofa, lights blazing, sometimes with the TV still on. So I decided I would try an audio book. I downloaded "The Hobbit" (because I love that book) and my sister was kind enough to share the seventh Harry Potter novel and a few David Sedaris books with me. So I tried it: I turned out the lights, laid down with my MP3 player, and...ten minutes later I was out like a light. This has been my nightly routine since this, and it has been wonderful.

Saturday night I settled into my routine: lights out, player at the ready. I decided to listen to Harry Potter, since I had listened to the Sedaris novels already. I fell into a blissful sleep, but was rudely awakened and utterly aurally overwhelmed by a huge and horrible onslaught of noise. The first thing I could hear was a long, piercing scream, occurring simultaneously with a spooky sounding male voice in my ear. Completely out of it and beginning to panic, I started flailing around on the sofa where I had fallen asleep, trying to get my bearings and completely unable to do so. My flailing caused an avalanche - the cordless phone, cell phone, TV remote and my hair clip that I had earlier placed on the back of the sofa all fell, of course directly onto my head.

Deluged by electronics and hair accessories, I fell to the floor, still baffled by what was going on. I was literally in a panic, and shrieked a little when I hit the ground. The screaming intensified, and the spooky voice in my ear was suddenly joined by swells of ominous music. After a moment on the floor, I realized that 1.) Bubba had awakened and was screaming his displeasure at finding himself in his bed, and 2.) Harry Potter was still playing in my ear and was at a particularly scary and dramatic point in the story. I yanked the earbuds out and went to rescue Bubba, my heart still pounding. There was a good two-minute period there in which I had absolutely no clue what was happening in my house. I'm silly.

And now for this little gem, which involves the loss of dignity that occurs in pregnancy (consider yourself forewarned):

When I was pregnant with Bella, I was taking Lamaze classes with my sister-in-law, because of my husband's work schedule. We had a routine: meet for the classes, and then out to dinner afterwards. We went to class one night, where the instructor was showing the class massage techniques for labor. We had been working on the floor, and she instructed us all to get up for standing positions.

My SIL and I rose from the mat we were seated on, and there was a noise that sounded distinctly like someone passing gas. I immediately thought it was her; she immediately thought it was me. This gave us both a terrible case of the giggles, which we were trying to keep to ourselves. The lights were low, there was relaxing music playing, and there were four other couples in the class trying to learn. Giggles quickly gave way to something close to hysteria, and tears were streaming down both of our faces as we tried to control ourselves. The instructor tactfully suggested that we take a moment outside, and we agreed, snorting with mirth as we left the room.

Once in the hallway, we faced each other and said, at the same time, "Did you fart?". This caused us to laugh even harder. In between our gales of laughter we ascertained that neither of us had farted. We laughed even harder, and then I had something happen to me that can be somewhat common in pregnancy, especially when laughing or coughing: "I just peed on myself a little!", I informed my sister-in-law. This did not help matters, and only caused us to laugh even harder. After a few minutes we settled down, and were getting ready to go back into the classroom when I asked where she wanted to go for dinner. "Dinner? But you just said you peed on yourself, you really want to go to dinner?". "Oh," I replied, waving my hand airily, "I pee on myself all the time, it's nothing." Our shaky composure lost once more with this comment, we gave up on ever getting back into relaxation mode, grabbed our purses and headed to TGI Friday's.

We still laugh when we tell that story. The noise ended up being caused by someones shoe on the mat we were sitting on, by the way. And the Lamaze techniques were completely forgotten half an hour into my labor. My husband offered to rub my back with tennis balls in a sock, and there was nothing soothing about that idea. Hitting someone with tennis balls in a sock, that idea appealed to me, but even in pain I realized it wasn't very appropriate.

So those are my silly stories. Instead of complaining about how busy I am, or the things that I am worried about, I thought I would make myself feel better by offering the world of blogging a little more mindless blather. And I do feel better!

UPDATE: After writing this, I called my sister-in-law to ask if she remembered this and she and I laughed ourselves to tears again. Nothing like a good (gross) story.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I had a moment

We have recently transitioned Bubba to a twin bed, since he insisted on taking spectacular dives out of his crib, landing in awkward positions and screaming like he was mortally wounded. I considered the various schools of thought on this topic - you have the "get him out of the crib now before he hurts himself" side, then you have the "he probably won't hurt himself falling out" side. I found myself coming in on the not "hurting himself side". I'm not willing to risk a broken arm. Not to mention the fact that the boy has an iron will, and the one time I played the "just put him back in bed" game I lost. I relented after literally the fifteenth time he intentionally fell out of bed.

How is the transition going, you ask? Oh, very poorly, I answer! He has screamed himself hoarse over the last couple of days. But let me take you back in time, to the place my stress started building: Sunday morning, at Mass. We were in the crying room, and I was trying to keep Bubba in line. He did OK for a while, but the he started to melt down. I was holding Bubba, who was protesting mightily, and trying to reign in Bella, who was making faces through the glass at a school friend sitting a few pews away. I was standing close to the glass, my hand on Bella's shoulder to pull her away, when Bubba broke into loud, high-pitched shrieks and started hitting and kicking the glass. I immediately backed away from the window, but not before getting some rather...unamused glares from people sitting in the back pews.

I had also made the mistake of putting poor Bubba in a collared shirt for church. I know better - he can't stand collared shirts, but in my haste I didn't think about it. As I backed away my poor baby just lost it. He started flailing around uncontrollably, yanking at his shirt and screaming at the top of his lungs and hitting me. I sat down and started trying to soothe him and he headbutted me in the nose (it was an accident), so hard that I started bleeding. I had to put him down because I couldn't see for a moment. So he thrashed around on the crying room floor, banging his head so hard I could see the parents next to me wince. I gathered our things and we left. Bubba has a major meltdown every Sunday at church. Stress!

When we get home he refused to take a nap. He was in his room, throwing a fit, when I encountered a neighbor who informed me that, should she hear me letting my baby cry like that again, she was going to call the department of children and families and have me investigated. Stress. Now I feel trapped in my own home, like I can't do what I need to do because, should he cry too long, and who knows what this person's idea of too long could be, I'm going to have to deal with CFS. Not that I'm worried they would find anything undue, understand, but that's a headache I don't need in my life.

Now we are into nightly screaming fits. He doesn't want to be in the crib, he refuses to stay in bed, and bedtime has become a battle that I dread. Nothing gets done around the house, because by the time he finally gets settled he sleeps for a little while and wakes back up again. We are both getting fragmented sleep, and neither of us are the better for it. And I feel like I constantly have the spector of my neighbor reporting me to CFS hanging over my head, even though I know I haven't done anything wrong. Stress!

I'm having a little work stress, and a little money stress, and Bella's school is, in all honesty, driving me absolutely crazy. I am sick of policy changes and important memos and the constant complaints that parents aren't doing enough. It's just been one thing after another (like the day she got an out of uniform notice because her belt was tan and not brown), and it's piling up and adding to my worry. Bella is having trouble in a couple of subjects at school - worry. My car is acting up - worry.

So all that to say that it culminated tonight, when I was trying to get Bubba to sleep. I was putting him back in his bed for the fifth time, when I stood up my chest got tight, and my heart started racing, and I felt like I couldn't breathe. I had to go sit down and take some deep breaths and eventually felt better, but it was a wake-up call I needed. I need to calm down. Or, as a friend of mine would say, I need to settle my butt down.

I can't control everything. And I feel so guilty about poor Bubba, and about Bella having issues at school...I am awash with guilt. So my answer is: I can't fix everything at once. Progress takes time. I'll just have to take it slow. I just wish I had more time. More time to spend with Bubba, to help him with his issues and enjoy the bubbly boy that he is. More time to spend with Bella, to help her with schoolwork and just appreciate her for the joy that she is. But, since I can't make more time, I'll just have to adjust. I'm trying too hard to do everything. To work and take care of my kids and my house and my husband, to make sure that there are groceries and hot meals and a clean house and time to enjoy each other. I'm failing. What's the answer here?

Well, for starters, we are going to try going to an earlier Mass. Hopefully that will help with the meltdowns. I am going to do some reading and try and come up with some creative ideas for bubba's new sleeping situation. It might take a few nights and be hard work, but we will figure something out. As for the work and the money stress? Part of life, and will all work out. Bella's school? I'll just chalk all the irritating changes up to a new-ish administation settling in (although this is the last year I'll give them that credit) and hope that things get better. And I won't send her to school in a tan belt. Bella's classroom issues? We'll just work on that together. Nothing is happening that can't be handled through compromise or hard work. Maybe instead of complaining of how put-upon I am, I should be grateful that my problems are so easily solved. They might be stressful in the here and now, but looking long term, they're really just little issues. Humility is what I need. Humility and grace. And some sleep. I'm going to go pray for the first two and attempt the third. Good night!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Can't learn how to learn

Last year, Bella had fabulous religion grades. I could always count on her to have an 'E' (equivalent of an 'A') in religion. This year, she has been having some problems, and I was trying to get to the root of them the other day.

We were studying for her religion test last week, and I knew that it was all material that had been covered last year, so I was fairly confident. Things like the Holy Family, etc. While I was quizzing her from the study guide her teacher sent home, I noticed she was agitated, and the agitated turned into being flat-out freaked out. She didn't know any of the answers, and she was getting very, very upset. So we took a breather, and I asked her what was wrong. This was her answer:

"Last year, we learned the answers in order and the test was in the same order and as long as we knew the order that was how we passed the test! But this year the answers aren't in order and I don't know how to learn them!".

Say whaaaaaat?

I had encountered this last year - we were studying for her religion test and I asked a question out of order and she recognized it immediately. "That's not in the right order! I only know them in the right order!" Panic ensued. I calmed her down and just asked her the questions in the right order and everything was fine. I didn't think about it at the time, but I now know I wasn't doing her any favors.

So I told her last week that it was no big deal, we would work on them together. And we studied over the week, and I thought she had the material down (it was only about seven questions) and then when the test came home, she got a 'D'. I'm not too worried about it at the moment, because it's early yet and we have time to work on it, but this concerns me.

She also freaked out about her math homework. They are doing fast math facts, where they have to just look at a problem and know the answer immediately. The other night we were working on numbers 1-9 plus 0 and 0-9 plus 1. I started asking her questions out of order again, and she lost it again. "I can't do it that way! That's not how we learned it last year!" I tried explaining that she is in second grade now, and that things will be different this year, but it was to no avail.

When I say she gets upset, she gets really upset. She cries, her breathing speeds up, and she is terribly agitated. It seems to really stress her out. And I'm not pressuring her, yelling at her or anything like that. Just a casual, "What does the word 'divine' mean?" and she falls to pieces. She doesn't do that with spelling words. I am at a loss.

My question is: how do I help her actually learn the material, not just memorize the answers?

Friday, August 21, 2009

What to do

Look at that smile. That beautiful little face, those chubby little cheeks, those bright eyes. My darling boy. I love him with all my heart.

But he vexes me. This is normal, you say, and yes, it is, but Bubba is a master vex-er. He has vexing down to an art form.

It's funny, when Bella was a toddler, I never purchased a parenting book. I didn't need one, really, because she was an easygoing baby. And I had the maternal-know-it-all that comes with a first baby (sometimes). The second time around, I should be even more sure of myself, but I am at a loss. I am currently reading four parenting books, all by different authors, all with different ideas. I've learned the secret to reading parenting books is to always have a backup. Because with almost every parenting book I've read (with the exception of 'Raising Your Spirited Child' - I recommend!), I have encountered SOMETHING that made me say, "Oh, no way would I ever do that, that is ridiculous" and then I put the book down in disgust and move on to something else. Then later, when Bubba has done something that has particularly bamboozled me, I decide to overlook whatever part disgusted me so and read further, hoping for an idea or just anything, anything that might help me to help my boy.

My concern is that I am not entirely certain whether he is exhibiting normal toddler behavior, just slightly amplified, or is there is something else afoot. He does exhibit plenty of normal toddler behavior, we have toddler behavior coming out of our ears over here, but some things he takes to an extreme. Examples? Well, let's see...he is a head banger (and I don't mean in a 80's hair band kind of way). And he's not just a headbanger in a mild way, he is a full-on, almost violent and somewhat distressing to myself and other people head banger. We actually had to leave the crying room Sunday because his headbanging was freaking out the other parents. One mother asked me if he was ok, and I just wanted to scream "I DON'T KNOW! AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!". Not out of anger, but out of frustration. Because I think he's doing it out of frustration and I can't help him.

And temper tantrums? Oh, my sweet boy has raised the temper tantrum to an art form. He does not deal with with transitions, my Bubba. I have been trying to get him outside in the mornings, for some fresh air and running around. According to my myriad of parenting books, you can ease transitions with warnings about how much longer you have to be involved in a particular activity, which is a great idea if an 18-month old had any concept of time. "Five more minutes and we have to go inside" or "We will have to go inside soon" means nothing to him - but I still say it, possibly just to make myself feel better. So two mornings in a row, once we went back inside the house, there was a temper tantrum of epic proportions. The first one lasted for an hour. An hour of screaming and throwing himself around the living room, flopping from place to place, hitting his head on the furniture. I feel so helpless. He can't be soothed when these big tantrums happen - he doesn't want to be held (although I still try, sometimes), he can't be distracted. The second morning he went for about twenty minutes, and then I just scooped him up and took him to my mother-in-law's house. Once we got to maw-maw's house he was better (because maw-maw makes everything better). We haven't tried going outside since. And if I leave the room to shower, he will lay outside the bedroom door and scream the entire time. THE ENTIRE TIME. And it's not like he's by himself - this is with my husband there in the same room and he is. This is why I try to shower at night, to avoid such scenes.

He doesn't like going to stores or restaurants, either. Restaurants are better than stores, possibly because there is food involved. But stores? Forget it. He does pretty well for about ten or fifteen minutes, and then he is done. And it is full on tantrum mode again, and he is inconsolable. He doesn't want to sit in the buggy, doesn't want to be held, doesn't want to walk. He just flings himself around, yelling and coughing and sputtering. When it first started happening I thought maybe it was because he wasn't getting out enough, so I tried taking him out more. FAIL. Then I thought maybe he would do better in the mornings. FAIL. So I thought maybe evenings would be better. MISERABLE FAIL. Afternoons? STILL FAIL. Regardless of the time of day or how well rested he is, he melts down every time (EVERY TIME!) we go to a store. Bookstore, toy store, Wal-Mart, it doesn't matter - he freaks out. But as soon as we are outside? He is fine. He stops crying immediately, he'll happily let you carry him or ride in the shopping cart, and the only remnants of his meltdown from mere minutes before is his tear stained face and snotty nose. I joined a 'parents of spirited children' e-group, and I posted something about this to the group, and the consensus seemed to be that this is a phase that he will outgrow. I sure hope so, but it's been literally months now and it only seems to be getting worse.

He has some other peculiar habits - he has a very sensitive gag reflex at the SIGHT of food, and will gag while he is eating, but he hasn't thrown up and doesn't seem to be bothered by it, he just gags and then continues eating. He chews on everything, almost like a puppy - he actually chewed his crib rail down to bare wood. His toy golf clubs - his favorite things in the world - are all chewed up on the club heads. He eats things that should taste bad - and I don't mean he just tastes things, I mean tastes and then keeps eating - thus far he ate three bites from a bar of ivory soap and about the same amount of my husband's deodorant. And I'm not a bad parent, letting him run around and sample the personal hygiene products or anything, I promise. He's just quick. And he's stealthy. He has some other odd little habits, too, that I can't remember now. I keep a list in my purse, actually, so the next time we visit his doctor I can mention it. Which is all I can do at this point. And I'm pretty sure I'll feel silly, but my maternal instinct tells me I need to bring it up, even if the doctor poo-poos it and says he's just being a toddler.

I'm not entirely certain why I shared all this, except maybe that I needed to get it out of my system. I've been talking to my sister and my Aunt about this, so they are probably sick of it, but maybe I needed to put it in writing. I feel so bad for him, really, because even though he is a happy baby when things are going his way, his lows are so terribly low and upsetting, to him and to the people around him, that I feel like maybe...I don't know what. Like he's not enjoying life like he could, I guess. And then I feel guilty, too, like maybe something I'm doing or something I'm not doing is the key to all this, and once I figure out what that is then things will be better for him. Kids get upset, I get that, it's a part of life and I get that, too. But he gets so upset, and it becomes such a huge scene and ordeal, and I just wish I could help him to cope. Part of that is selfish, yes, because when he gets worked up it's very stressful, especially if we are out somewhere, but that's not the heart of the matter - the heart of it is that I want him to be able to handle things better so he can enjoy more.

As it is, he can handle going to homes without issue. My in-laws, my sister, my aunt, my dad, he will happily spend time in their homes without having a major meltdown. He seems to reserve the really big blowups for home or while we are out somewhere. And he loves to be outside, but the only problem with being outside is that eventually, you have to go back inside, and you've already read about how that works out. He doesn't mind being in the car - he is a fairly decent car rider. I just can't figure it all out. But I want to help him. I just have to figure out how.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tropical School Daze

Well, tomorrow is the big day: Bella goes back to school. My big second grader. She is excited, and while I am excited for her, the start of school always stresses me out. The getting up earlier than we have been for months, the traffic, the insanity of carpool line, I could go on but I won't, because it's nothing I have any control over so there's no point in fretting. I just need to get over it.

Are we ready? We are ready-ish. Bella still needs to put the finishing touches on her summer reading book reports, for one, but she's planning on doing that this evening. We still need to write her name on her bookbag, but that will take two minutes. Her supplies are already at school, so that's taken care of. Her first two days are half days, so I won't have to address lunches until the middle of the week. This year I have a new lunch policy - Bella will be making her own lunch, the night before school. Theoretically, this should make lunch problems moot - she will hopefully eat whatever she brings, since she made it, and it will lessen the post-school lunch criticisms. We shall see how that goes.

We have uniforms, although we don't have many uniforms, and the ones we do have need some attention - a hem there, a dried-in mustard stain there, a faded logo. The mustard stain is causing me much distress, because I have been working on it all summer and have yet to get it out. I've faded it, but you can still see it. I was actually praying about it last night, praying for assistance with a mustard stain, of all the silly things. I wished that I might have more time to get it out, although if I haven't managed it in three months I don't know what any more time could do for me. So I wake up this morning and find out...we are under a tropical storm warning! Does that fall under the "be-careful-what-you-wish-for" category? I had hoped for some more time, but not due to a tropical weather system slamming into us. I went to bed last night aware there was something churning in the Gulf, woke up to a tropical depression and came home from the grocery store to Tropical Storm Claudette.

I don't even know if school is going to be canceled - if we do get hit, it is supposed to be in the early AM hours Monday. I don't think I would like to attempt morning carpool during a tropical storm, but I will if I have to. We are on the western fringe of the projected path cone (ah, the projected path cone - how we love it or hate it, depending on where we are in relation to it), so we might just get some breezy rain. Either way, I think we are prepared. We have some bottled water and batteries (I always try to keep both around, anyway, so I had them on hand), and later I'm going to stash the things on the porch somewhere, and that's about all I can do. That and hope the power stays on, but hopefully my proximity to the naval hospital will ensure that any outages, should they occur at all, will be brief. So I'm going to go batten down the hatches, in a casual sort of way, and then it's back to business as usual. Which for me, today, will be prayerful last minute attempts at stain removal, the ironing in of hems (because I cheat because I can barely sew) and the safety pinning of waistlines.

Claudette, stay away!

**UPDATE!!** With some elbow grease and possibly some divine intervention (hey, I don't know but I'm not ruling it out, after all, I did pray for it) the mustard stain came out! My jubilation quickly turned to dismay, however, when Bella ripped a hole in the armpit of the shirt putting in on this morning. Literally months of hard work on stain removal reduced to moot. Gives me a little perspective, though, I suppose.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Bad Haiku Friday: Pimento cheese and Marines in their underpants

My Godfather makes
the best pimento cheese spread

Thank you, Mr. Mike

My marine neighbor

walks his dog in his boxers

A sight to behold
Go and visit Laura at Catholic Teacher Musings for more bad haikus.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Teen translator

I met a sweet young girl who might babysit for me every once in a while! Exciting, yes? I'm excited. I asked her the other day is she was old enough to babysit, and she said yes, so I told her I would hire her. Then she 'friended' me on Facebook, so I sent her a message that said "Hey, future babysitter!". This was what I received in reply:

"hey...i wud actually lurv to babysit fer u and my mom said shed take me anywhere if i wanted to babysit someones kids to make some money and stuff...but i lurv (Bella) and (bubba) so theres no prob..."

I was a bit stymied, so I forwarded the e-mail to my sister, who also knows the girl. My e-mail to my sister said this:

"Does this mean yes? I'm confused..."

To which my sister hilariously replied:

"Don't worry, I speak teenager...allow me to translate:
"Yes, I would love to babysit for you! My mother is willing to provide transportation. She is excited for me to have such an opportunity! I do so enjoy your children!""

And THAT is one of the many reasons why my sister is so awesome.


My car is smelly
Diaper fell under the seat
Air freshener, please

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bad Haiku Friday

I was up for trying Laura's bad Haiku challenge today, so here is my meager contribution to the world of bad haiku. This particular Haiku was inspired by my fondness for (and recent excessive downloading of) Beastie Boys music:

The Beastie Boys should

write haiku because that would

be really awesome
This is also intended as a tribute (poor as it might be) to MCA (Adam Yauch), since he recently announced he has cancer. Get well soon MCA!

If you don't have anything nice to say...

...don't say anything at all. I haven't had many nice things to say, lately. Good things have been happening, I'm sure they have. Good things and funny things have happened. I've been eating well and working out and physically, I feel better than I have in years. I've been stressed, though, and I was afraid I would just complain endlessly if I blogged, so I didn't blog. I will blog now, though, and try and get all of the complaining out of the way:

My husband's schedule has changed, which completely throws off our childcare. Now I will need childcare different days of the week, every week. Some weeks I might need childcare three days, some weeks I won't need it at all. Not a lot of affordable childcare providers who are willing to put up with such nonsense. That's stressful.

I need to add more hours at work, both for financial and workload reasons. I'll see less of my kids, have less time to do all the things I need to do, and also adds to my childcare issues. Stressful.

There's all sorts of other reasons why I'm stressed - my in-laws, my grandparents, girl scouts, church stuff, school stuff. But also, and I'm going to lay down some brutal bloggy honesty here: I'm having some problems in my marriage. Some pretty heavy stuff is going down, and I'm...well, I don't know what I'm doing. Trying to hold it all together? I guess. Every relationship has ups and downs, and right now we are pretty down. But we're working on it.

That's my confession for the day. I haven't been blogging, but I have been reading other blogs. Lurking, really, since I haven't been commenting as much as I would like. I miss my blog friends! I'm going to try and get back into the swing of things, and maybe it will help me to focus on the positive. I will try to be more positive. I will be more positive.

On a somewhat cheerier note, I had posted previously about my suspicion that I was sinking into depression. Since I made the changes to my diet and started exercising regularly and taking my vitamins like a good girl, things are much, much better now. Not to say that I don't get a little melancholy now and then, but I don't feel bad all the time like I did before. So there's something positive, something to be thankful for. I have many blessings in my life, and all my problems are relatively short-term problems that will work out. It's just hard to remember that sometimes.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

In search of some ink

I have a tattoo. Just one, on my shoulder, so I can easily cover it up. It was actually a birthday gift. My sister-in-law suggested it, and offered to pay, so we took a ride up to see a friend of ours who was working in a tattoo shop. I didn't know what I wanted, so I put my foot down on having anything done immediately - if I was going to have something etched permanently onto my body, I wanted it to be something of great meaning to me, not just a ladybug or a butterfly or anything like that. After some internet searching and the help of a talented and artistic friend, I ended up with this (please excuse my raggedy hair - it's not quite long enough for locks of love just yet, and forgive my messy bathroom, poor photography skills and ugly pajamas):

Mother and child, a tribute to my love of my vocation, my love for my children. A few months before I got the tattoo I had endured a miscarriage, so it had even more meaning for me. And I lost my mom while I was pregnant with Bella, so it could stand for my mother, her mother, anybody who is a mother or a child. I like it. And Bella likes it - she calls it 'our heart', since it's sort of heart shaped.

I have been feeling a hankering for a new tattoo for a while now. I'm not an ink addict - far from it, actually - I got the first tattoo about four years ago. I'd like to get another, so I'm trying to decide what I want to include in the design.

Disclaimer: I realize that some people dislike tattoos, and that some people dislike religious imagery in tattoo form. If so, you might be bothered by this post. The last thing I want to do is offend, so please consider this fair warning. I don't want any nasty e-mails, so please keep in mind that people can have differing opinions while still being respectful. If you would like an interesting perspective on the subject, browse over to this site: Religious Tattoos. The site is run by a Catholic father of four who happens to appreciate body art. Check out the tattoo pictures page, sorted by subject - it's fascinating, and if you visit the links page, you will find tattoo shops that tailor specifically to Christians.

My younger sister is one of the best Christians I know, and she has multiple tattoos. Some of which he had done while she was going through a bible college. She now has a bachelor's degree in theology.

My conversion to Catholicism was huge for me (as it is to everyone who does it, I'm sure). It was a big step, something I never thought I would do, and I discovered how much it meant to me and how much I wanted to do it when I was on the verge of not being allowed to move forward. I made it, though, and I want my tattoo to signify my faith, among other things. For starters:

I want a triquetra because it has all sorts of meaning - the Holy Trinity, obviously and mainly. Two sisters plus me equals three. I have two children with me and one I lost, for a total of three. I do realize that the triquetra can also be considered a pagan symbol, but that's not a problem for me because I look at it this way: it is going to be on my body, so what matters is what the symbol means to me. Both my sisters have triquetra tattoos, and we have long talked about all three of us having one, so I'm pretty sure my next inking will be of a triquetra in some way, shape or form:

BUT - I don't know if I want a thin line, a thicker line (like the one above), a double, or if I want the circled version. That's one decision to make.

Throughout my conversion to Catholicism I found myself drawn to the Holy Spirit, for a myriad of reasons, a lot of which are rather private. I wear a Holy Spirit medallion, all the time. So I would like to include a dove. I know, I know, the trinity symbol includes the Holy Spirit, but I'm giving an extra little shout-out. Maybe like one of the doves below:

So I have to decide which dove, and then where to put the dove. Inside the symbol? Outside? Above, below? Another decision. I'm thinking, though, that I would like the dove inside the lower left side of the triquetra.

I would also like to have something that represents the Blessed Mother and all that she represents. I can't decide on that one - maybe a fleur-de-lis, or the initials and crown, one of the two, as seen below:
I don't know which. Or where. Another decision. But I'm leaning towards a fleur-de-lis in the lower right hand section of the design - I like the blue and white one, above.

In the top section of the triquetra, I would like something for my kids - maybe little stars, maybe circles - one in pink (for Bella), one in blue (Bubba), and one in white (for the baby I lost).

And that leaves the center. Hmm...what's a girl to do? I could leave it blank. I was thinking I would like to do something for my mother, but I'm just not sure. And this is all up in the air, of course, because I could get this sketched out and it could look busy and terrible, or it would have to be huge to fit all that stuff inside of it and I'm not looking for a huge tattoo. Who knows, I might end up just doing the triquetra. So that's what I've been up to lately, mulling over tattoo options. You know, because I just don't have enough to do already. :-)

Happy weekend to all!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Come Tuesday...

So I'm at work today, working with a customer on the phone, when I see a gentleman strolling to the back of the store with my boss. He looks familiar, but I can't place him, and I was trying to both help the customer on the phone AND wrack my brain to try and figure out who he was, when my boss says, "Hey, you guys, it's Jimmy Buffett!". Ahh, THAT would be why he was familiar.

He shook hands with everybody, and was looking at guitar tuners - you know, since he needed a tuner for his stratocaster because he's going to start working on an album tomorrow, and stuff. He talked with everyone, while I was still stuck on the phone with the same customer. I wanted to say, "Jimmy Buffett is here! Can I call you back?" but I didn't. He was getting ready to leave when I finally got off the phone, and he was shaking hands one last time so I snuck in. Everyone else was talking about where or when they had seen him play live, but I had never seen him play live, so when he shook my hand all I could say was, "I've read your books". It's true, I have.

He was busy contributing to the local economy, apparently, because he had a huge shopping bag from the jewelry store across the street (I mean huge - I wouldn't think a jewelry store would have a bag that big - I mean, it's jewelry). He had to leave in a hurry because he was meeting his sister for lunch and didn't want to be late. So there you go!

That was my brush with fame today. Well, that and speaking with Mrs. Fetterman (widow of Admiral Fetterman, and somewhat famous locally), who was telling a charming story about her friend Tom Benson, who just happens to own the New Orleans Saints.

I love this town sometimes, I really do.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

It's been a while

Hasn't it? I apologize to my few readers. I haven't been all that busy, but I have been enjoying the lack of school and girl scouts. Bella has been enjoying it, as well, and has been staying up far too late. She seems to have a knack for knowing just when I'm about to tell her to go to bed, and when she senses that coming she'll come up to me, give me a big hug and say, "Mom, I think we need to have some girl time right now". How can I argue with that? So we play Wii - usually Cooking Mama, and some Lego Star Wars, but the player perspective on Lego Star Wars makes me queasy after ten or fifteen minutes. Sometimes she reads to me, sometimes we just snuggle on the couch and watch TV, or we will do some needlepointing or some crafts. Lots of fun.

I am feeling a little blue, my friends. I think I'm a bit depressed. I've been trying to address it myself before I seek medical intervention - changing my diet around a little, trying to make sure I get more/enough sleep, get some exercise, things like that. I'm hoping those steps work.

I took Bella to the bookstore yesterday with her summer reading assignment and let her pick out books. We picked a few books off her assigned list, and then I told her she could pick out one other book of her choosing, as long as it was a chapter book. She browsed through the beginning chapter readers, and after a moment exclaimed, "Everything is fairies and princesses! I have lots of those already!". She didn't want more Junie B. Jones books or Magic Tree House books, so I was helping her try to find something and we came across the Franny K. Stein series, about a little girl mad scientist. Much to my amusement, she opted for one of those books. And she loved it! She is planning on 'reviewing' it on her website tonight, since she finished it in the car on the way home. She laughed out loud more than once while reading it, and actually read a couple of the more amusing passages out loud to us. I read it, too, after we got home, and I liked it. It had a great message about staying true to yourself, even if you're a little different. And parts of it made me laugh out loud, like this:

She was just about to tell the girls how Chompalina could bite the heads
off their dolls when she noticed something. Their dolls were all kind of...sweet
and pretty. They all had long hair and flowery dresses. Not a single one of them
oozed uck. They didn't ooze anything. Franny made a note to herself: Pretty,
non-head biting dolls
, it said. And less oozing.

Or this one, possibly Bella's favorite passage in the whole book:

The kids just stood there. They didn't know how to help. A few tried
crying. A few tried screaming. One tried wetting his pants, although later on he
admitted he had no idea why he thought that might help.

That's funny stuff, especially if you're seven.

Summer is in full force here in rainy Florida, where the temperature is in the nineties by 9am and the humidity makes you feel like you're stepping into a hot tub everytime you step outside. You can't go outside during the afternoon because it's too hot, and you can't go outside in the evenings because you get eaten alive by mosquitos. My little stretch of porch is alive with nature, and by nature I mean angry stinging insects that chase you back inside the second you step out. I sprayed a couple of wasps' nests a couple of weeks ago, and we already have four more. The joy of swamp living. All this and hurricanes, too! I should write ads for the department of tourism.

I hope everyone has a lovely summer weekend!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Thoughts and prayers

I've been visiting a blog written by the mother of a little girl named Faith Hope, who was born with an anencephaly. Most anencephalic babies die a within minutes of birth, if they survive the birth process at all. Her little girl just recently passed away, at the age of three months. If you pray, maybe you could say a prayer for them.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Uniformly Crazy

Bella's school has gone insane over uniforms. They have flip-flopped multiple times over logos and styles and some parents who went ahead and ordered based on the initial requirements are ticked. Below are the notices we have received, just regarding sweatshirts (which are fairly inconsequential around here, since they wear them for about two months):

Notice: Regular or zippered sweatshirts are allowed but they cannot have a hood and must have the embroidered school logo.

Notice: Sweatshirts can have a hood but they must not have a zipper and must have the embroidered school logo.

Notice: Only plain sweatshirts without hoods or zippers will be permitted and must have the embroidered school logo.

Notice: Any sweatshirt style will be allowed but it must have the embroidered school logo.

And finally, coming in AFTER the uniform session at the school where many people purchased an official sweatshirt bearing the embroidered school logo:

Notice: The embroidered logo sweatshirts will only be allowed for 09/10 school year. After that all sweatshirts must have the silk-screened school logo. Anyone not wearing this style after the 09/10 school year will be considered out of uniform.

I'm not kidding! I am thinking about starting a polite stink about the uniform situation. You are only allowed to purchase uniforms from one source, and they do not have a store in town. You have to drive an hour into Alabama to purchase uniforms (it's 47 miles away from my house - I just checked), or pay a shipping rate that starts at $12 and goes up from there. And the real kick in the teeth comes when you realize that the jumper you are driving an hour to buy (or paying $12 to ship) costs $34.95 at the shop the school uses, but you can buy it on for $14.95. Seriously. But you are not allowed to purchase it from french toast - all over the uniform page it is specified that uniforms MUST be purchased at the specific retailer. I wonder if they go around checking tags during the school year, to make certain. Surely not.

I understand the logo issue, make me buy anything with a logo from the 'local' store, but jumpers and shorts and pants? Let me get them for more than half off somewhere else. At least give us one other option. It's hard enough to come up with tuition, much less driving for an hour to buy overpriced uniform pieces. I understand the point of uniforms is to be, well, uniform, but adding one more option that is more affordable and is selling the exact same items...I don't see what the problem is.

However, I am not good at starting a stink. I am too afraid of offending, and the parish priest and the sisters running the school have too much to worry about without me getting up in their business about uniforms. I don't want to start an offensive stink, understand, but I would like for them to honestly consider the idea. I think I'm going to check out the other Catholic schools in the area and see what they do, and then talk to a few parents to see if they agree with me, and then come up with some facts and a thoughtfully worded presentation. It might all come to nothing, but it's worth a try. Look out - woman on a mission!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Look out internet!

Bella's grades have dropped a little this term - not a whole lot, and not so much that I am very concerned, but I would rather nip issues in the bud before we have a big problem. We had a serious discussion in the car this evening about how important it is to do well in school, and to do the very best job you can, even if it seems hard, and so on and so forth.

I have been wracking my brain lately, trying to come up with ideas to make her summer reading more enjoyable for her and other ways to keep her reading and writing skills fresh over the summer. I was working on a blog post earlier and she came over to the computer and started asking questions about what I was doing and why, etc. Then she said, "I wish I could have a blog." I had an aha moment (don't sue me, Mutual of Omaha!) and told her that she could -thus, Bella on Books was born.

She was so excited about the idea that she hurried up and finished the book she was reading so she could write her first 'review'. I told her that she needs to write out her posts longhand first, so she will know what to type. So she will read (hooray!), she will write (awesome!) and she will type (woohoo!). All skills she can use when school starts again.

She helped me with the setup - she chose the template, and she ever-so-slowly pecked out the wording for her greeting. She even wrote her first review tonight. I am very interested to see how her writing will progress over the summer - if you look at the blog, her first post is perfunctory at best. But it was also a rush job, since she wanted to get it done before showering and bed.

She seems really excited about it, and if that is what it takes for her to get excited about reading and writing, then fine by me.

Speaking of school, Bella found the new year's tuition notice from her school. It was in her homework folder, and she thought it was for her and opened it. She asked me to explain it, so I did, telling her the number at the bottom was how much we paid per month for her to go to school. She was aghast, and then she said, "I can't believe you pay that much, mom! That is so much money!" (It's not THAT expensive, but any dollar amount greater than $5 is a lot of money to her). She then said, "Well, I wouldn't pay that much money". I told her she gets a very good education, and that combined with the religious education she is receiving makes it very much worth it to her father and I. She still wasn't convinced, but I told her she was worth every penny. Her reply? "That's an awful lot of pennies."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What's eating you?

Because something is eating Bubba. Mosquitoes, specifically. We live in swamp, so we are used to mosquitoes, but these are persistent mosquitoes who snuck into the house somehow. We don't leave the door open, but they sneak in on our clothing, or hurriedly fly in while we are coming or going. I should check our phone bill - I bet while we're out of the house they're making long distance phone calls and eating all of our Easter candy. Stupid bugs.

Bubba seems to be getting the worst of the bites, and they have been bad:

You can't really tell from this angle, but he has a bug bite on his eyelid that made his eye swell almost shut. You can see it better in the photo below:

It was HORRIBLE. He won't keep ice or a cold compress on it (which is really the only thing we can do at this point). Please ignore my messy fridge and my husband's overgrown goatee.

He has about six bites on the back of his neck. They seem to be going down rather quickly, giving me hope that the bite over his eye will settle down just as fast. And yes, he does need a haircut. But it will hurt me a little bit to cut off those curls.

He has another 5 or 6 bites on his torso, and one on each arm. This has all happened inside my house. That makes me feel terrible.

I made a desperate trip to Wal-Mart last night and picked up a couple of indoor pest repellent things that plug into the wall. I'm hoping those will work. And I have become very strict about the opening and closing of the front door or our sliding door. We open the door, dash out and close it quickly again, or vice versa. This morning Bella wanted to check the weather, and she was headed to the door when I said, "That's why we have the internet and the weather channel! Don't open the door!".

This, too, shall pass, I'm sure. As long as I stay vigilant about the doors we should be OK. This is just another reason to add the the already long list of reasons that I can't wait to get out of this apartment. In the meantime, if anyone can offer any advice for...

  • keeping mosquitoes out of your home
  • doing something about mosquitoes once they get inside your home
  • natural anti-itch remedies
  • a way to keep an ice pack or cold compress on a wriggly, stubborn 15-month old

...I would appreciate it. In the meantime we will make do. In an itchy kind of way.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Duly Noted

I had to go to the girl scout store the other day to get a few last minute items for the girls. And by a few last minute items I mean all the things I was supposed to be accumulating over the course of the year but didn't - I can procrastinate with the best of them, as long as I can do it tomorrow. They actually had everything I needed, so I happily went to the checkout counter and started digging in my purse for the troop checkbook. And I dug, and I dug, until I started to feel slightly panicky.

I excused myself to the woman behind the counter and went out to the car, frantically digging through all the trash in the floorboards and all the random stuff in the seats, until I remembered that I had put the checkbook in one of the bags I bring to meetings. I heaved a sigh of relief and went back inside, arranging to have my purchases held until the next day.

After work and dinner with my in-laws, I went home, got the kids settled in bed and went to get the checkbook from the bag. I encountered a slight problem when it was not there. So I did a little more digging, and a little more rifling, and every time I searched through something I would be absolutely certain that the checkbook had to be there, and then it wasn't. Anxiety building, I went back out to the car and did a cursory search, but still nothing.

I spent the rest of the evening, until 1AM, searching through various, assorted and very random places in my apartment ("Maybe it's in the vanity drawer in the master bathroom!"), and turned up nothing. I finally forced myself to go to bed, trying to reassure myself that it would turn up the next day. But I didn't manage to fall asleep, because I spent the next two hours doing this: "Ok, sleep, sleep, go to sleep....wait, maybe it's in the laundry room!" and then I would get up and search the laundry room, to no avail. Then I would lay back down and do it all over again: "Alright, going to sleep now....wait, what if I put it in my household binder? I bet that's where it is!" and so on and so on, until it was after 3AM and I was driving myself absolutely insane.

This morning dawned long before I was prepared for it, and after shuttling Bella off to school I settled back into my random searching of places-it-couldn't-possibly-be-but-I-hoped-beyond-hope it might be. After getting frustrated with the house, I decided to search the car again, so I grabbed Bubba and a lawn-sized garbage bag (my car was really filthy) and started cleaning out the car. Roughly a half hour and a stuffed full lawn-sized bag of trash later, I still couldn't find the checkbook. I had felt panicky before, but at that point I was officially panicking.

Losing my personal checkbook would have been stressful, but losing the scouts checkbook made me feel absolutely terrible. It's one thing to be irresponsible with your own things, but to be irresponsible with something that belongs to a bunch of little girls...that hurts. Those girls and their parents worked hard for that money, and it is entrusted to my care, and...well, I felt like I had let them down. I was also worried that I had dropped the checks somewhere and some less than honest person had found them. I wouldn't want to explain to sixteen young girls that they can't have a Build-A-Bear party because I lost their checks and someone stole their money. That would be disastrous.

I sat down on the sofa and decided to declare it officially lost. At that point I had been on the hunt for over twelve hours, and I saw no point in continuing. Small apartment, small car, only so many places to look. I had to 'fess up, and not only did I feel horribly guilty I felt kind of embarrassed. "Yeah, I know you trusted me with this hard earned money and stuff, and I'm a grown woman who should be able to manage such things, but I lost the checkbook. Some criminal probably picked it up somewhere and is at Rent-A-Center right now, writing a troop check for a big screen TV and a micro-suede couch. My bad."

I sat down at the computer and sent an e-mail to the leader in charge of finances, letting her know what I had managed to do and asking her to call me. I called one of the other leaders and told her about it, feeling utterly horrible about myself. While I was talking to her I realized that my cell phone was about to die, so I walked over to the charger and plugged it in. I was yammering about how bad I felt when I looked down at a box of girl scout stuff in front of me, a box of girl scout stuff I had emptied and searched through twice in the course of my search, and there was the missing checkbook. Not only right in front of my face, but even sticking out a half inch or so.

I think I was taught a lesson in humility today. I didn't find what I was missing until after I had to shamefacedly admit to others what I had done. Others whom I had been criticizing just the day before for (of all things!) their lack of organizational skills. I'm not suggesting divine intervention here or anything, I'm certain God is much too busy to come down, hide, and then later replace an item in an attempt to stop me from gossiping, but no matter why it happened, I'm picking up what was laid down.

Lesson learned.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Makes My Monday: Grandparents Rock

Since I'm posting this so late I won't make it an official 'Makes My Monday' complete with logo - I think I'm coming in a little under the wire for that, but I wanted to share anyway:

I picked up the kids from my sister's house Saturday evening after getting off work. Normally we stay at my sister's house for a while, have dinner and hang out but since my nephew had a date (seriously!) that my sister was going to accompany him on we made other plans. When I first saw Bubba after work he had a drippy nose and was acting rather grumpy.

We decided to head over to my in-law's house, since my father-in-law had been out of town for the week and the kids wanted to see him. Paw-paw, as he is known to my kids, is a big deal to them - especially Bubba. My poor father-in-law has to sneak out of the house if he has to leave while we're there, otherwise Bubba is just utterly devastated.

We pulled up into the driveway and Paw-Paw was standing outside, watering plants. I got Bubba out of the car and let him walk over to my FIL, who stooped down and help his arms out. Bubba toddled up to him and climbed into his arms. "Bubba, you're not smiling!" my FIL commented, tickling him and spinning him around and doing whatever he could to try and coax a smile out of him, but poor Bubba was not in a smiling mood.

My FIL followed us inside the house, calling to my MIL, "Bubba won't smile!". She was alarmed - "Ooh, what's wrong with Maw-Maw's baby doll?" she cooed at him, making faces, trying anything to get him to smile, but he still would not. Bubba just laid back against his Paw-Paw, not looking around or getting down to play, just laying there and blankly watching television.

When I mentioned that my sister had told me he hadn't eaten much that day, they were horrified. Bubba is a voracious eater. My MIL promptly got up and warmed up some jambalaya for him - Bubba loves his rice. He ate a few bites and turned his nose up at it, sniffling and clinging to his Paw-Paw and just looking all-around pitiful.

We had not planned to stay long, because my in-laws were planning on going to dinner and then the grocery store. I tried to tell them that I would get him to eat at home so they could go and do what they had planned to do, but they would have none of it. My MIL started rifling through her kitchen, trying to figure out what Bubba might eat. While she was in there Bella asked if she could have some pancakes and bacon. I was horrified, and quickly told Bella that she could eat at home, but again, they would have none of it. My MIL promptly whipped up some pancakes and cooked some bacon.

Bella sat down to eat and Bubba was looking pretty interested in her pancakes, so my MIL fixed a plate for him. She sat down on the couch, put him on her knee and speared pancake pieces on her fork, giving it to him to feed himself. And he did! And ate two pancakes. He got my MIL all sticky from the syrup, but she didn't care. She fed him, wiped him down, gave him a cookie, and before too much longer he was back to his normal self, running around the house and making a mess. My FIL took him out on the front porch (that he built just so Bubba would have a place outside to run around) and they played with a ball out there until I could get all of our stuff together and get ready to leave.

It was amazing - they hadn't eaten dinner themselves, they had things they needed to do, my FIL had been on a plane all day, and yet they were more worried about making sure my kids were happy than their own situation. I love my in-laws, and we are all very fortunate to have them in our lives. And THAT is why grandparents make my Monday.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Happy Friday

I don't have much to say - I'm tired and worn out, so instead of being negative and grumping about all that I am going to suggest that you go and visit Aimee's blog and read her post about her son. I dare you not to be moved. After reading that, there is nothing I could possibly write that would seem even remotely adequate.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


'The Hyper Homemaker', a recent discovery of mine, has deleted her blog. She didn't leave it up and stop posting to it, she flat out deleted it. She mentioned something about a book offer, so I suppose you can't really write a book about homemaking and expect people to buy it when you have all the info up on the web for free. That whole 'no one will buy the cow' thing, I suppose. My first thought was - she totally sold out. And my second thought was, ah, but so would I. So there you go, then.

I've got a lot of personal irons in the fire, lately. A lot of little projects around the house that are waiting for just a little more attention so they can take off. I'm finally making a household binder, for one. Which, once completed, will be a lovely resource for my household, but right now it's just not good enough. I'm so weird like that - "No, I can't use this until I center that title" or "Oh, I misspelled that sub-heading, so I'll have to wait and reprint it" or other such nonsense.

I've been thinking a lot about my health and my diet, and also the kids' diets. Heart disease is rampant in my family, along with diabetes and high blood pressure and all sorts of other things. I actually have PVC's, generally harmless heart palpitations that, while harmless when unaccompanied by other problems, can signal trouble ahead. I know I need to eat better and take better care of myself. I've been doing a lot of reading, both books and information online, and I'm thinking about going vegetarian, then eventually vegan. I am not saying I will never eat meat again - I just don't think I could do that, but I do plan on eating it very infrequently. I've been sort of sneakily introducing meatless meals for a while now, and while the kids and I don't have an issue with it, I can't make too many in a row before Brian and my grandfather start to complain.

Bella has long been sort of a vegetarian - the only meat she eats is in cheeseburger or nugget form, and Bubba is a vegetarian at this time because he considers himself above baby food and will only eat table food, and most meats are a little too much for his chewing/swallowing skills at this point in time. I have done a lot of reading about children's nutritional needs, as well. I'm not forcing this on the kids, and if at any point they want to eat meat that is fine with me, but they aren't eating meat now anyway, so it makes sense to try and make the changes necessary to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need. I'm going to talk all this over with their doctors at their next check-up, of course, but I feel better knowing more about what their bodies need and how to get it into them.

This week I am embarking on my adventures in herbivorism. Is that a word? I am planning on doing all this slowly - phasing out certain things, phasing in certain things. I am excited about it, actually, because I'm really hoping it will make a difference and make me feel better. I bought groceries tonight and I did buy some meat that I can add into my menu for whomever wants it, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to make everyone happy. I might blog about my dietary changes ocassionally, more for a record for myself than anything else. Ooo, and then maybe I can get a book deal! Awesome! And one day you will attempt to stop by my blog and it will say "This blog has been deleted because the user totally sold out".

My Favorite

Thanks to Laura from Catholic Teacher Musings for hosting this today, in honor of World Prayer for Vocations.

I have only been Catholic for a couple of years now, so my experience with priests is rather limited, but there is one priest who had an enormous impact on me.

I encountered some issues over the course of my RCIA classes and at one point it actually looked like I wouldn't be able to be confirmed and welcomed into the Church. Msgr. Reed, the priest at the parish my sponsor attends, helped me with these issues and it is because of him that I was able (and chose!) to move ahead with the process. I was discouraged and dejected and he stepped in and helped me.

I had always been fond of him even before he came to my rescue, so to speak. He is an incredible speaker, and when I look back on my time in RCIA a lot of the words that stuck with me came from him. He can inject a little hellfire and brimstone into his homilies from time to time, and as a convert from the baptist faith I appreciate that - it makes me nostalgic. :-)

I have seen Msgr. Reed since then, and he always recognizes me and greets me warmly. I don't attend his parish but I have seen and heard enough about his actions to know that he is a good, kind and generous man who lives as a model of his faith. And he kept me from losing mine. So thank you and God bless, Msgr. Reed!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Not sure what to think

Bella came home with a behavior report today - a bad one. She was talking too much (we get reports of that once every couple of weeks or so) and that she wouldn't stay in her seat (that one was new). We discussed it with Bella at length, and told her that she would be punished at home, to which she replied that she had been punished at school. I told her that was only fair, and she said: "My teacher told the class to give me and (another student) a round of applause since, because of us, the whole class lost recess for 13 days".

I don't really like that she is doling out a group punishment with the blame placed on two children that she named to the class. It isn't fair to the other students, for one. I agree that Bella needed to be punished, go ahead and use her as an example, certainly - if you want to tell the class that because of the way she acted Bella lost recess for 13 days, that's fine with me. But to name her and another student specifically and point out that it is their fault that the entire class lost recess - and for 13 days, which seems like a long time - well, I don't think that is appropriate. I would guess that the point of a group punishment would be the hope that other class members would try and encourage the students to stop misbehaving, but I think that is a little over the head of first graders. For older children, I could see how that could work - with older children, peer pressure is a huge incentive, so risking the displeasure of fellow students is anathema.

I also know that self-preservation is a strong instinct, especially among children, so there is always the possibility that Bella is not telling the truth. However, I don't think she could make up the phrases that she used - 'round of applause' is not in Bella's vocabulary. And I asked her the one question that is guaranteed to eke the truth out of her - "If I go ask (teacher's name) whether that happened, will she tell me the same thing you just told me?". Bella normally crumbles under such logic, but when I said that tonight she just said, "Yes, that's what she said - you can ask her". Hmm.

My first thought was to send an e-mail to the teacher, thanking her for letting us know about Bella's behavior and letting her know that we are working to correct it, and then nicely asking the teacher about the situation. I'm not going to CC the principal or anything, and I'm not expecting anything to come of it, but I would like her to know that I think there is possibly a more appropriate way to handle that situation. But I am going to wait until tomorrow - I'm going to sleep on it.

I must add that, while this would bother me slightly under normal circumstances, I wouldn't be so troubled by it if my husband had not mentioned it to his parents. They were immensely bothered by it, thus making my position a little more awkward. My FIL even asked if I wanted him to handle it - I quickly assured him that would not be necessary, and that I would take care of it. Don't mess with their grandbabies!

Sigh. It will all work out - I'm sure of it. Small potatoes, as my Grandma would say. Don't sweat the small stuff. I'm going to lay on the sofa and read and forget about all of this. Good night!

**UPDATE: I didn't do anything. Sending an e-mail would have accomplished nothing. I could express to her that I felt her actions to be innappropriate, and it would change nothing. It's almost the end of the year, anyway - Bella has another month or so in this teacher's class, so there doesn't seem to be much of a point in stirring the pot. No hard feelings, just glad that this school year is drawing to a close. It's almost over!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

In need of thoughts, input and advice

I would greatly appreciate some input from anyone who has experience with Catholic schools, in whatever capacity. Specifically I am wondering about band and/or orchestra programs in Catholic schools. Heck, in any private school (except PCA). If you know the answers (and I fully realize you may not, and that's OK), I would love to hear from you. What I am wondering is:

  • Does your Catholic school have a band or orchestra program?

  • If so, does it operate strictly within the school, or is it parish or diocese-wide?

  • Is there a charge for participating?

  • Do the classes take place during the school day or is it an after school program?

I am asking all of this because Bella's music teacher left the school, leaving a small band class high and dry and with no other options. She also forced the cancellation of the school's spring musical. Bella has been at this school for three years. In those three years she has had 5 different music teachers. Two of those teachers left during the school year, both of them abandoning a band program that the teacher who followed them could not teach.

In my opinion, it would be beneficial for both the students and the school(s) to offer a band program. So I am doing some reading and research right now to try and look into other options for offering band classes. I would greatly appreciate any information anyone could give me - if you don't feel like commenting feel free to send me an e-mail. Thanks!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

And we're back!

I miss the family being all together, and I miss my gorgeous, sweet little niece, but I am glad to be home. I have edited this post multiple times throughout the course of the day, but keep ending up being waaaay too wordy, so I decided to break it down:

The trip up: Loooong. We got on the road around 5:30pm on a Friday night, and got there around 12pm Saturday. Bella and I were crammed into two tiny seats in the back of the SUV we rented, but we enjoyed ourselves despite being surrounded by all the stuff that didn't fit into the roof rack. I did not sleep at all, because I was worried about Brian driving, since he only had bout 5 hours of sleep under his belt. But we made it!

My niece: Absolutely gorgeous, adorably cute, captured my heart at first sight.

Bubba felt the same way, apparently, because he smooched all over the baby. Everytime he walked by her he had to stop and give her some spitty kisses:

Our sleeping arrangements: My in-laws slept in the master bedroom; my sister-in-law, her husband and their baby slept in the baby's room, and my little family slept on the living room floor or on the couch or loveseat. It was difficult because Bubba would just wander around playing until he collapased from exhaustion, then he would be out of sorts. And stayed out of sorts for the better part of the trip. But all of the family was together, and that is what mattered.

Easter Sunday: A good day. We went to the base church for mass. The service was lovely. Bubba slept through it, but Bella dissolved into tears halfway through, I think because she was tired. The music director accidentally turned her microphone on about ten minutes before the service started, so we got to listen to her correct some intonation issues, ask the piano player if she was playing the same song the choir was singing, and then, possibly as a grand finale, burp. Bless her heart. Anyway, it was a good day, all around.

Children's Museum: Fun. Educational. Some of the better exhibits were broken, but I think you have to take into consideration that, being a children's museum, things are bound to break or be broken on fairly regular basis. Bella was fascinated by most of the displays. Bubba was bored until we got to the under-3 play area and then he ran around like a fiend before staking out the top of a climbing toy as his spot.

Virginia Aquarium: Lovely. I was smitten with the sea turtles, Bella loved the seahorses, and Bubba was very, very grumpy. I actually bought him a crab stuffed animal as a souvenir, because it fit his personality that day. Bella discovered a love of spiders, which was interesting. She was actually afraid of the sea turtles - I asked her to stand in front of the tank to take a picture, because there was a turtle slightly bigger than her floating right beside her, but she said she didn't like turning her back on it. I don't know what she thought it might do, but we did get the picture - Bella looks scared, and the sea turtle is swimming off, probably disgusted at the implication.

Colonial Williamsburg: Just as wonderful as I remember it. I could have spent days there, days and days, but Bubba was unhappy and Bella's feet were tired after an hour of walking. We did stay for a few hours, though, and Bella learned quite a bit. I just can't say enough good things about it - I would go back tomorrow, if I could. If it wasn't 16 hours away.

The dress is a period costume rented from the visitor's center, the jeans and Hanna Montana shoes are NOT period dress but it was too cold to roll them up and I wasn't buying new shoes. Despite the odd mix of old and new AND the fact that there were tons of other children roaming around in costume, we were stopped multiple times by people who wanted to take Bella's picture.

The trip home: Long and agonizing. I was able to sleep, which helped. Bella and I, once again crammed into the back of the truck, were close enough to each other to have the following conversation:

Bella: "Mom, you have a hair growing out of your chin"

Me: "Yeah, that happens sometimes when you get older"

Bella: "I'll get it" and then leaned over and yanked the hair out. "Mom, are you growing a mustache?"

Me: "It's not a mustache, Bella, it's just fuzz. Why don't you read? Where's your Junie B Jones book?"

Bella: "But I'm just wondering, why would you want to grow a mustache?"

Me: "Where's your gameboy?"

Bella: "Are you going to grow it out like Dad's, in a goat?" (meaning goatee)

Me: "Find something to do other than look at me, Bella"

She eventually did read, and finished off the novelization of 'Barbie and the Diamond Castle'. She is a zippy reader!

We left Virginia around 12PM on Friday afternoon and arrived back home around 4:30am Saturday morning. After unloading the car, I ran to the store to get groceries, then came back home and attempted to sort suitcases and other things out, then dropped the kids off at my sister's house and was at work by 10Am. Whew!

Some other random thoughts:

I am sooo glad we had the GPS unit my sister gave us for Christmas. Even with the GPS, we still got lost a few times, but it would have been much worse, otherwise. On that note, does anyone remember AAA triptiks? I remember when I was a kid we would get a triptik to go anywhere. It was a little comb bound book that showed your route via multiple pages of maps, and construction areas were stamped on in red, and rest stops, etc. Old school!

Bubba threw horrible tantrums the whole time we were gone. Hitting, kicking, throwing himself to the ground, screaming. An amplified version of his normal behavior. I'm really, really hoping it was because he was so tired and off his schedule, because otherwise I will never be able to take him anywhere. I haven't really taken him anywhere since we got home, actually, because I'm sort of scared. Bella never threw tantrums, so this is very new to me. I just don't know what to do when he does that. My instinct is to remove him from the situation, which is usually inconvenient or rude if not both, but that's the best I can come up with for now.

Before we left for this trip I was mulling over some changes that I need to make in my life, for my own good and for the good of my family. I am going to steal a page from Jennifer over at the Conversion Diary and make this time after Easter like a mini-new year, a time to re-evaluate, assess and make changes. I have a lot of ideas, of course, but one concern I have had for a while now is the amount of television that Bella watches. And not only does she watch a lot, she is a TV zombie - when she is engrossed in a show you can't talk to her or tell her anything, because she won't hear it.

For that reason, and since the timing worked out so well, we are going to participate in TV Turnoff Week. And since I'm ripping off other bloggers' ideas, I'm going to borrow the idea (and the image) from Unplug Your Kids to take that one step further and include ALL screen time in that turnoff. So I am going to try and avoid the computer during the times I am at home. I probably won't be posting until the week is over, but lately I haven't been posting that frequently anyway. I'll still be able to check and comment on blogs from work, though, which makes me feel better. Wish me luck!