Tuesday, September 28, 2010

WTF?!? Awards

Over the past few days, I've had so many WTF?!? moments that I decided to give out awards.

The only rule is:

A nomination = An award

Please feel free to share your WTF nominations and awards in the Comments section.

Here we go:

WTF?!? Award #1 goes to:

The 5FC Phantom Urin8tor

One of my boys has the fastest draw this side of the Mississippi, because even though the total time of unsupervised moments in our household per day is like hmmmm, maybe 3, someone is still able to find those opportune moments to "pea" somewhere other than the toilet.

WTF?!?! Award #2 goes to:

An Unnamed Employer of a
Unnamed Person in the 5FC Household

This company, in their grand bid to "CHANGE TOMORROW," sent out this "Bird Feeder Kit," along with a make the world a better place t-shirt, to all employees with an inspiring letter directing us to help serve the community by making a crappy wooden bird feeder and then giving it away.

I don't know about you, but I would feel like one mega tool bringing a cheap-a$ wooden birdhouse to a homeless center and telling them that it will change their tomorrow.

WTF?!?! Award #3 goes to:

Katy Perry and her "Singing"

I swear the only thing worse than hearing California Girls every other song on the radio is having to hear "Teenage Dream." It's enough to make me want to drive my minivan over a cliff into the Pacific.

Good thing I live in Wisconsin, huh?

WTF?!? Award #4 goes to:

The Corn Refiners Association recent attempt
to rename HFCS to "Corn Sugar"

Because apparently, a rose by any other name will not make you as fat.

and last, but not least:

WTF?!? Award #5 goes to:

The Mister

Hopefully, this award will finally quash his relentless campaign to inspire Mattel to market a "Flamin' Asian Camping Ken" doll.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Don't worry, sir, I'm an expert

On Friday afternoon, the Mister and the kids got off to a bit of a late start when leaving for camp. As such, they stopped for dinner along the way.

Atticus chose Subway.

"Eat fresh," he'll tell you. Which is fine by me when it comes to fast food. And although I'm sure there are still a trillion reasons why not to eat at Subway, I'm pretty sure--no, I'm damn positive, thanks to the Mister--that, unlike Happy Meals, their food does decompose. Especially when left in a minivan with rolled up windows on a hot summer day.

But I digress.

So on Friday evening, the Mister shuffles Atticus into Subway, where Atticus proceeds to order a Turkey Sub.

As in, turkey and a sub bun.

"Would you like cheese with that?" the Subgirl asks my boy. "Pepperjack, American or Provolone? How about American?"

"Uhhhhh," Atticus stammers.

Now, the Subgirl has no idea that Atticus is stammering because he has a psychotic mother who is born and bred Wisconsinite and a cheese Nazi who absolutely REFUSES to keep that Kraft sh*t in her home and who will rail for HOURS on end about how, along with black olives, it is the food of the devil.

If you are going to make a grilled cheese sandwich, for God's sake use Colby. Fresh Colby.

And if you are going to feed your kids cheese, use REAL cheese.

For the purposes of getting on with the story, that will be all I'm saying on Kraft opinion.

"Atticus, do you. . ." the Mister nervously began. Nervous because he was scared that his son would somehow morph into his wife and begin chewing out Subgirl.

AT this point in the conversation, Subgirl holds up her hand to Cliff and says:

"Excuse me, Sir. When I first came to America, I too did not know what American cheese meant. Let me help."

She turns to my son. "Do you know what Kraft Single Slices (she pronounces this Loudly and Slowly) are?"

* * * * * * *

Well, now, just guess how many times in the upcoming month, the Mister will turn to me and ask, "Do you know what Kraft Single Slices are?"


Just guess how many times in the upcoming month, I will turn to my Mr. OTB and say to him, "When I first came to America, I didn't know what that meant either."

Keeping the marriage fresh, thanks to our son and his desire to eat fresh at Subway.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Field Trips, Fun and a Little Complaining too

Later today, the Mister, Hatfield and Atticus depart on the Annual Homeschool Dad/Kid Tent/No Electricity Camp-Out in Door County. They will join 45 other Dad/Kids for a weekend of fun where the Golden Rule is: No Moms Allowed. Why this rule? Because Dads let their kids do fun things that Moms generally put the ixnay on, like tree climbing and wood whittling. Other activities include hiking trails and bike trails and the annual bicycle excursion to a frozen custard shop in the nearby village.

Trees. Whittling. And Atticus, my locale-challenged "Ooo, shiny!" distracted kid, on a cliffside bike trail.

I am trying out a new anti-anxiety med just for this weekend!

In all seriousness though, this is a great opportunity that will be a ton of fun for them. If the 40 mph winds don't blow their tents into the Bay.

Kidding, Mister (man I hope he doesn't read this prior to departure.)

With the Mister and big kids gone, it leaves me solo with my 5-year old pseudo-triplets. Which should be pretty fun, if I can get Keenan to snap out of it. I don't know what set him off, but it's like someone gave that kid a big ol' dose of Butt-head meds. The entire week has been painful with him, but not like I'm-angry-and-gonna-take-you-down sort of way, but more like a slow, agonizing Guantanamo torture sort of way.

This morning, for instance, he no longer remembered what the words "shoe," "jacket" or "car." Both in English and Kreyol. And not in a blank fight-or-flight stare. But in a full-on, stare me down, lying "I don't know what a shoe is, Mom" right to my face.

So I'm thinking that this weekend, I should cordone the kid off in a sound-proof room and play our "Barney ABCs" dvd on auto-play all weekend for him, to help recall such basic vocabulary.

Kidding. That would be cruel and unusual punishment. And anways, we don't need that ol' Barney. Just Mom commenting, "Well, then, I guess your class can all look at your cool Spidey socks all day since you can't remember what a shoe is" and "Well, then, I guess you'll have to go fire up your bike to get you to school since you don't know what a car is" was enough to spark that recall.

Imagine that.

Seriously, kid, after 13 months, doncha think you could come up with some new way to torture me? Do we really have to keep playing this "I don't remember" game? And isn't it funny how you never forget words like "cookie," "tv," and "Target."

I don't know what it has been about this past week. We've all been sick, we've all been tired, and we've all been cranky. The Mister and I included. And once we hit Monday 2:00 pm, the fun level drastically decreased and the whole week was just ick.

Prior to 2:00 Monday, I had Hatfield, Atticus and Paloma out on a Homeschool Association Field Trip to Barkhausen Preserve (when I was in school, we living-on-the-edge 3rd graders would call if Barfhousen," because always at least 1 kid would barf on the 15 minute bus ride there. And when I was a kid in school, that 15 minute bus ride always seemed like an hour. I was shocked to discover that it was so close after all.)

Hatfield split off with the older kids (hence no pics) and I stayed with the K-3rd grade crew.

We first did a Marsh Study.

Atticus was In.His.Glory.

Paloma loved it too.

After lunch we went on a Nature Trek, and Paloma appointed these two girls Her Friends.

Fortunately, they thought Po was adorable and allowed her to glom onto them (which I appreciated, because it's not like Po asked them permission or made it an option for the two girls.)

And to make the Field Trip fun for the Moms, our Park Ranger kinda looked like Vin Diesel.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My first FO in years

Way back in August of 2007, I began knitting a very cute yellow market, with the intent of both finishing the knitting and felting the bag that year.

This past weekend, I finished that bag. To put the time frame into perspective, it took longer for me to finish the bag than it took for us to finish our Haitian adoption.

But whatever. It's done!

When you knit a felted bag, the bag pre-felting is quite large compared to the finished project.

Here is the bag pre-felting.

Dropping it into a hot, sudsy washing machine (always with a prayer to the Felting Gods to please let all that knitting be for "knot" (so knitty witty am I).

Checking compulsively on my project. Before it begins to tighten/felt, it first relaxes and becomes monstrously huge.

The camera batteries died, so directly jump to the finished project do we (ever have a day where your internal voice sounds like Yoda? I blame it on having 3 sons. But better to sound like Yoda than look like Yoda, I think. Although after yesterday's run and I feel kind of all hunched over and shuffly, so I guess I'm channeling him more than I'd like to admit.)


Monday, September 20, 2010

Fear-Based Response

Today Mr. Keenan was led out of school by his teacher. Who was holding his hand. And making a beeline directly towards the Mister.

It seems that Keke told a little girl that he was going to take a scissors and cut her hair.

Several times.

Until she went running, scared and upset, to the teacher.

The Mister had the joy of
1) experiencing a Teacher-My Child Escort for the first time (I was subjected to it like a trillion times in 4-K. It's like the Mom Walk of Shame) and
2) knowing that he had to tell me about it when he got home which would suck because
1) he knew that he would not know all the details well enough to satisfy his need-to-know-minutiae wife and
2) he knew the likelihood of me gloating that it was finally his turn for the Dad Walk of Shame after I did it a trillion times was pretty high and
3) he knew I would not take it well.

Guess what?

I did not take it well.

My response was completely fear-based.

I hollered. I yelled. I fired off "Why" questions like I was a machine gun of some sort (can you tell I'm a pacifist? Because I couldn't name a type of gun if I tried unless it's a Smith Wesson and that's only because I read Patricia Cornwell.) I'm fairly sure my head spun 360 and I may or may not have foamed at the mouth.

Keenan looked at me, clipped up his chin, and turned around, refusing to answer.

This fueled my fear/fire. Because lately Keenan has been"edgy," first trying to circumvent rules or requests, and by this morning just flat out refusing to comply and/or throwing fits over having to do things like tuck his shirt in (okay, fine, don't tuck it in, but then everyone's going to see those Sponge Bob drawers, my dear son!) And by this morning's school drop-off time, I was frazzled.

It was an awesome feeling to start a Monday.

But back to that frazzled fear/fire escalation: we went from not listening and respecting house rules to Oh My Lord you threatened a small girl at school with scissors and unrequested haircuts to further disrespecting your Manmi and refusing to cooperate with anything!?!?!? I felt a tizzy coming upon myself.

In moments like these, I find myself nearly (okay, BIG time) panicking with daydreams of future scenarios. All of which involve police intervention, juvenile detention, and legal subjugation.

Now, I know in the grand scheme of thing, this situation is small potatoes. But these tiny little potato buds have been slowly growing. I'm trying to dig up those potatoes now so that we don't have to deal with Big Potatoes later.

Because right now, today, this 5-year old son of mine is tiny and adorable and has the cutest, sweetest, deepest dimple on the planet. Yet, someday (soon) he is going to be a pre-teen boy who is going to grow into a teen boy who is going to grow into a young man.

And, let's not ignore the fact that he's black.

Now, what do you think happens when a black teen boy threatening, unintentionally or not, a smaller scared girl with scissors?

Schools can:
a) call me
b) suspend his a$$
c) call the cops
d) all of the above

And it's a downward spiral from there.

A huge part of my fear is that I know this little boy. And Keenan, truly, I do not think there is any violence in his heart. He wanted to tease the little girl because he likes her. Which really isn't the smart thing to do, but it's a "kid" thing to do, and those are things are comfortable dealing with as a Mom. I don't feel a lot of fear over the teasing thing at all.

But I feel a LOT of fear at the thought of my little boy growing up, continuing these actions, and getting hauled off to Juvie because he can't understand what constitutes acceptable behavior.

Hence my freak out.

Once I calmed down, and took a step back from the situation, I felt instant remorse at my big, bad Mom Freak Out. I was able to calm down and talk to my boy. Both my boys, actually. I worked at connecting with them, making them feel like I'm your Mom and your family and I love you and got your back and am here to help when you make these bad choices.

In the end, the evening turned out pretty well. I think I connected with them and got my point across without freaking out. We had some fun being silly putting clothing away, and we read a new Berenstain Bear book (their favorites.)

But you can bet your bottom dollar I am gonna cry tonight because I feel like I totally botched this afternoon.

The Mister, however, does not feel that I botched this. Because, having been a minority male teen, he feels that our boys need to grow up knowing: Never Expect Anyone Anywhere to Ever Make An Exception. Not Never. Ever. Never.

They will be watched more.
They will be scrutinized more.
They will be suspected more.
They will be given fewer chances,
if any.

So to the Mister, we need to be work hard NOW to get it through to them that their wiggle room for mistakes like this once they are big?

Because, fair or not, it's best they get their wiggles out now while they are little and cute because their White Umbrella Manmi cannot protect them forever.

I'm not arguing with the Mister. Over the years, he's shared stories that break my heart. And it breaks my heart and makes me feel sick to my stomach to think that my precious little boys could experience the world in similar cruel ways.

And this is spot on where my fear is based because I cannot protect my beautiful boys from the cold, cruel and unfair world, and I am terrified that they are going to act in ways which the world is going to show how cruel it is and I'm not going to be able to do anything about it except watch.

I think he's right about what we need to teach them on many, many levels. Yet, I do think the best way to teach them this is through a love-based approach, and not the fear-based one I employed this afternoon.

But, man, I wish this leaning curve just wasn't

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Menu Brain Drain

I don't know about everyone else, but this whole homeschool/public school schedule with 5 kids and music/dance activities is kicking my a$$ BIG TIME so far this year. I love homeschool, I love public school, I love their activities, but the chasing and car transporting I could do without.

Plus I have major "I might deliver the wrong kid to the wrong place at the wrong time" anxiety. Which was kick-started this summer when, to Hatfield's mortified dismay, I brought her to soccer games at the wrong time/wrong field/wrong everything.

Which really, is that the end of the world? No, and I recognize that. But I have this whole type-A, control freak I-need-schedule-perfection thing going on. So in fact I create my own problems out of nearly nothing.

I know, cry me a river, right?

This exhaustion is carrying over to my menu planning, as in the fact that I am suffering from a horrid case of Menu Brain Drain.

I like to menu plan (hate me, it's okay) and I put my menu up on the Motherboard (to learn more about the Motherboard, click on HERE.)

Many moons ago I read of a great idea on Simple Mom, which I still employ to this very day. Simply assign each day of the week a 'genre.' This can change with seasons, and I find mine changes with semesters and accompanying dance/sport schedules.

For example, here is my Fall/Winter menu plan:

Sunday: Homemade soup and rolls (courtesy of the Mister, who finds bread baking "stress-relieving." I personally find bubble baths, sleeping and escaping my home on a regular basis "stress-relieving" but to each his own, right?) I usually make a triple batch for leftovers and weekday lunches.

Monday: Slow-Cooker Day. Like baked chicken (if I can swing an organic one into our week's budget) or Crockpot meal. But we have a lot of dance that night, and I need to employ a slow-cooker or make-ahead meal into this day.

Tuesday: Mexican (bean enchiladas, bean and cheese tostadas, rice/lentil tacos & burritos, and sometimes I'll make from scratch chiles rellenos, but it's time-consuming and only a few of the kids like them)

Wednesday: BRAIN DRAIN

Thursday: Re-heat frozen home made soup from Sunday and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Salad, because again, crazy dance night.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches are kind of worshipped in our house. I am SUPER picky about how I make grilled cheese. I will ONLY use:
* Sourdough Bread (and the good stuff);
* REAL Colby Cheese from a local farm (because Colby cheese melts into those long, ooey gooey strings). Not cheese that comes already sliced or enveloped in plastic. For the love of all things holy, do NOT use American cheese on a grilled cheese sandwich. (And that's my only food snobbery soapbox for this post.
* Real Butter. Slathered on the bread, and melted in the pan. For perfect golden crispiness.

Plus, for the Mister and Miles and my culinary enjoyment (the rest of the kids say No Way!), I add:
* Tomato slices
* Jalapeno pepper jelly

Friday: Homemade Pizza. Or if I'm feeling like living on the edge, calzone. Fancy shmancy.

Saturday: Pasta night. Cliff is big on learning how to make homemade pasta, which I'm all for. Why stifle his culinary creativity? But sometimes we run out of time, or don't make pasta, and then I'm stuck with BRAIN DRAIN.

So come on now, help me out and share your food for thought. . .what's for dinner at your house this week?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

So disturbing I can't even think of an adequate title for this post

Happy Birthday to You.
Happy Birthday to You.
Happy Birthday Dear Happy Meal.
Happy Birthday to You.

Please go to this site by clicking on the word Here.

At this site, you will see what happens to a Happy Meal if you leave it out on your desk for a FULL year.

If you left a real piece of meat sit out on your counter and let it rot over the course of 30 days, and photoblogged each day, it would make me sick.

However, that is NOTHING compared to how sick I feel at looking at this photo.

Are there Flies? Rodent droppings? Writhing stinky maggots?

Nary a one.

What is so incredibly disturbing is that NOTHING, except a tiny bit of withering, happened to the meat, bun and french fries.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Edited-Two good reads

(Corey, this edit's for you, girl ;)

Over the past month I've read two excellent books, each creating a series of growing thoughts, many to be accompanied by action.


I learned about both books, where else but on Big Mama's blog. Miss Cindy is an amazing teacher, writer, woman, and every early morning will find me at my computer, eagerly devouring all the nuggets of wisdom and experience she so kindly offers.

We are so blessed here to have the Mister's job. He's a workhorse, that man of mine, and he provides well for us.

But even with being well-provided for, there still must always be a reining in of money going out, the proverbial tightening of one's wallet strings. Raising 5 kids and running a household of 7 is a challenge at times. Braces, therapy bills, dental surgery, new (used) vehicle, roof repair, 20 year H.S. reunion are all looming large on our horizon. Not to mention the cost of feeding this crew.

We're realizing that we have choices to make everyday. Do we want to spend the money on monthly cable service, or do we want to have the ability to take a vacation every year or two? Do we really need two cell phones with unlimited services, or can we somehow go back to "making do" like we happily did for the first 8.5 years of our marriage?

One thing we do right is we don't use credit cards. But one thing we do wrong is that we have too much going out the door. We need more wiggle room. If we want to attend the Mister's 20th H.S. Reunion next August in Seattle, we're gonna have to cleave off some areas of expenses so we can channel that money into the reunion fund.

Being mom to 5, homeschool teacher to 3, leaves me too tired to try and juggle money each month. Have a bill, pay a bill. Put money that's not spent into the appropriate future-use fund. I don't wanna rob Peter to pay Paul, because I have a feeling if I were to try, I wouldn't find the availability of brain cells to help me remember what I was shifting around in the first place.

I'm slowly finding my internal dialogue shifting from the "consumer" mindset to that of a "producer" mindset. What can I somehow make, create or provide for my family, instead of relying on an extractive economy to do so?

I already garden, I love the simple act of canning our food, and I prefer to make most foods from scratch. Just read the back of any box in your cabinet--how many of those words can you readily identify? Do you know where "monoglycerides" or "soy lecithin" come from? I don't, but I sure as heck can tell you that I have never discovered a seed for "monoglycerides" in my Seeds of Change catalog.

So if we don't know what the heck it is, or how it is made, why do we put it in our bodies?

Because it's easier to be mindless, for one.

Easier at the moment, for certain. But is it easier to live with diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, dementia? Is it easier to pay thousands of dollars per year on prescriptions, only to have to pay even more the following year, because instead of trying to correct and improve health, we only worsen our current afflictions?

This is a highly tangential post, to be sure. Gold star to you if you made it this far.

Either way, our family is starting to really look at what we are doing and making changes. It's very easy to fall into the traps of a mindless comfort. As Americans, convenience is SO easy and readily available that we become unconscious of the total effect of our daily living choices.

Our house certainly has become unconscious in many arenas, and I realize that I have a lot more growing up to do. Because when I turn on the news or open the papers, I don't see much that's promising. It's a constant wake up call, a thorough reminder to me: Live Simply. And Enjoy Less Stress.

And so that is what I intend to do: reduce the stuff in my house and life; focus on experiences and not objects; and reap the benefits of both actions.

Because let's face it: we RAD moms have the Stress Market cornered. And since I can't wave a wand and magically make my kids healed and stress-free, at least I can create less stress for me in creating change elsewhere.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Feeling inept

While the weekend has been calm as a whole, it's been incredibly frustrating for me, and I've been walking around with a knot in my stomach, and hole in my heart, and a huge acid reflux problem that I think can directly be attributed to stress.

I used to think I had this parenting gig under control. I have 3 great homegrown kids. As a parent, I was described as patient, constructive, involved, and loving. I loved being a homeschool mom, enjoyed every single moment with my family, and thought, I would love to have more kids, and our family is blessed to have the resources to have more kids, and adoption is our best avenue. Sure things will be a challenge, but we're smart, tough, resilent, and educated.

But that was then, this is now. You can erase "smart, educated, and patient" from my pre-adoption resume.

Insert: "inept, clueless and frustrated."

As I've mentioned before, we take Miles to an excellent EMDR/play therapist for his RAD and PTSD (and seriously, just typing out the letters RAD, still makes me feel sick and breaks my heart because I still struggle grasping that this is our reality.) I really like the therapist and feel good about the whole thing.

Earlier this week, I was unable to make on of Miles' appointments, so the Mister took him (a parent is always present.) Uneventful.

Yesterday morning, I took Miles. At the beginning of each session, we chit chat with Mr. P and talk about what's new, school, etc. All kinds of "fun" things that Miles likes to share and talk about.

Yesterday, as he has done many times in the past, Mr. P. will ask Miles a question, and Miles will give a weak smile, open his eyes REALLY wide, and turn to look at me. Like he's either looking for approval or wanting me to give him the answer. As if he suddenly can't answer "What's your teacher's name, Miles?" without getting worked up and turning to me about it.

So Mr. P., comments, "Wow, after seeing Miles here with Cliff, and now with you, his body language is certainly very different with you than with Cliff."

Gee, ya think?

I'd be lying to say that this statement, which is on one hand a relief because someone else sees it, doesn't go straight to my heart. And I know that Mr. P. didn't say that to cut me down, or scold me, but merely offering an observation. But, ouch. Talk about feeling instantly inept.

I watched Miles in his "big eyes/hesitantly turn to mom/look at her questioningly" reaction and I try to always think of the "positive" trauma behavior/explanation to these moments. It's that instinctual fight/flight response, due to many years of living with unsafe adults in a precarious living environment, at best.

But sometimes, like yesterday, I see a glimpse of my boy and a very unsettling feeling comes over me that he is not in flight or fight, but instead, giving out a very calculated performance. From the "big eyes" to the "hesitation" to the "looking to me for approval."

Mainly because when he is in fight or flight, he can't remember anything from those moments. The time spent thinking in the rear part of the brain is almost a type of amnesia; once we can get our boys out of it, they most often are truly perplexed, can't recall details with any sort of accuracy, and seem just out of it.

And in those moments of fight or flight, they either act very violently, or they completely freeze and are unable to move. Keenan, for instance, will freeze with his hands balled up in fists, almost as if he is ready to throw down a series of hard blows. Yet, he couldn't if he tried, because the F/F reflex has him locked down in the "freeze" mode.

Yet in these moments, like at the therapist's office, Miles can freely move, control his breathing, and he can recall the entire conversation with perfect, hyper-vigilant accuracy.

Does the therapist catch any of this? Beats me. All I know is that these 'moments' are over questions that I can ask Miles at any time, and he can happily reply. Questions that the Mister or my mom or even our therapist can ask without me present, and he can answer with no problems. I just don't get the feeling that this child is in fight or flight at all. It is really, really difficult to think that a little 5 year old could be so manipulative, but that's what trauma does.

For an adoptive parent, these types of thoughts are the ones that keep you up at night and create PTSD in the parent.

And I'm finding it a horrible place to be in, as a mother and a person.

Was I prepared for these situations? Certainly not. I think as a whole, agencies and adoption communities tiptoe around these topics for people in process. You get your kids home, and a whole post-adoption "WTF did we get ourselves into?" community is suddenly magically there-- and thank God for that.

Would knowing these things have stopped me from adopting? I don't know. Probably not, but perhaps.

You know those programs where they send at-risk teenage girls along with a teen mother for a day or a week to help them "get a clue?" Or troubled young men go to a state pen for day to listen to those who are there? Reality shock therapy?

My family would probably be good testing waters for those who have their hearts set on adopting. We don't have outright severe behaviors here. But what we do have is consistent behaviors that wear you down. And what we have is a slow escalation of worsening behaviors as our child becomes more comfortable with our family and as we work through his trauma issues

Many things don't stun me any more. Urin8ing on floors, walls, beds used to send my blood pressure sky high. Now? it's more of a sigh, a Shit (or in this case, "P") Happens sort of moment. We just ripped carpet out of a second bedroom. Nice, expensive carpet. And this morning we woke up and found a big pool of urine soaking right into the subfloor, because I haven't been able to magically whip up 6 hours yet to throw down a layer of Kilz.

Oh well.

The things that do get me are twofold: 1) the fact that many behaviors, which have consequences that they don't like, are repeated over and over and over again. Nothing seems to be learned--ever and 2) despite the fact that we are consistent with our behavioral expectations and consequences in our home are clearly set out and labelled (the credit system), new destructive behaviors are always present. The ante is always being 'upped.'

I know there are trauma-based psychological reasons behind this for everything. I know that had my boys been born from my womb and grew up in our home, we likely would not be facing any of this.

This is trauma. And it is real. And awful. And I am SO MAD at how it has changed these little boys from what they should have been. SO. MAD.

But all that known, and said, this is still hard. It is still hard to have a child who will give out affection indiscriminately to everyone and their neighbor, but becomes angry when you try to love and protect them with boundaries. It is hard to have children who lie, are sneaky, are vindictive and destructive. It is hard to have children who push and push and push you away. It is hard to have children who make you feel like you are going crazy.

It is hard to have a therapist acknowledge how a child clearly treats you differently. It's hard to have friends comment on how your children bristle, pout, and otherwise reject you. It's hard to realize that some people are thinking that they are this way because somehow you as a parent are failing. Or that you aren't loving the child enough.

PTSD is to be blamed. RAD is to be blamed.

I love these two boys fiercely. I don't always like their behaviors. I actually abhor many of the behaviors. But their behaviors are different from them as people. And I love those two little people.

And maybe it doesn't look that way.

Maybe I don't look warm or affectionate enough when I am in public and setting clear, established boundaries to let them that I am Mom. I am Safe. And I will keep You Safe.

Maybe for our family, it is more comfortable for the boys to keep that love and fuzzy in the privacy of our own four walls, because anything more than that would stress the boys out.

But whatever. I am doing everything I can. I am giving them time and energy and doing work that many times I don't think I am capable of doing, yet I am somehow pulling it from somewhere deep to give it to them.

And if that isn't love, I'm not sure what is.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I blame it on The Nester

During the several years we spent waiting on our Haitian sons, I developed a deep affinity for any and all things Nester.

(This post isn't to slam her. I think she's adorable and wish I could be IRL friends! Plus, despite my tongue-in-cheek post title, I take full responsibility for the inane amount of dusting I created for myself.)

In those months I sat yearning for my little boys, I took all that maternal anguish and longing and applied it to home projects. And the blogging world is full--and I mean full--of awesome home making blogs like the Nester and Kimba and The Inspired Room. Everywhere I turned I found more food for home making thought.

So I feasted.

After several years of pigging out, I decided that I need to put my house on a diet.

The past two days and tomorrow as well, I have spent my time at my mom's having a rummage sale, selling all of that stuff. And then some.

Because with 5 warm and little and yet rapidly growing bodies (and some not so little at all anymore--because Miss Hatfield is now taller than my mom and my sister), plus their articles, plus our homeschooling materials, plus--did y'all know that the Mister works from a home office, too?-- we are finding that just all of that can take up a sizeable amount of space.

In the end, I decided our life is quite "full" as it is, even without all my adorable Nester-inspired articles.

I kicked my Nesting habit a good 15 months ago, and haven't hit any of those sites since. Instead, lately, I spend my time reading sites about minimalism and living simply.

Instead of having a 'cozy' little nest filled with tassels and glass jars of seashells (and man, I had a lot of those, because they are so sweet, and I love seashells) and lots of little trinkets to dust (and dust and dust again), I dream of having large expanses of gleaming hardwood floors and not having to dust anything, except the piano, the coffee tables and my floors.

It doesn't take a house bearing several perfectly arranged table-scapes to be a home. And I'm pleasantly finding that by getting rid of stuff--even the organizing 'stuff' to turn your clutter into organized clutter (because you can't organize clutter--it's still clutter), you actually have more time and peace of mind to spend your moments on the things that matter most--like your family and life experiences.

Thus far, I'm taking in a considerable haul from all I'm selling, which pleases me. I have enough to perhaps purchase flooring for the dining room. Sadly, I wish I would have been on this kick several years ago, because I could have easily floored the entire dining room/living room/foyer, had I not gotten caught up in all the fuss in the first place.

Yet live and learn. And for now, I feel like I'm doing both. Which isn't that bad of a spot to be in, with or without gleaming hardwood floors.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Ready for Realrings

On Monday morning, Paloma woke up and announced that she was ready for "Realrings."

Realrings is Po-speak for Earrings. As opposed to "Snaprings," which are clip-ons.

After a quick call to my fabulous BFF Becky, a bad-ass mom who holsters an ear gun and has the honor of piercing all the little ears of her large family (and we are part of that family, as I insisted that she and her sister adopt me into it), we were on our way.

Here is Paloma before, with her "Frozen Ducky," a friendly resident of our freezer who is called upon for every owie, mosquito bite and pre-piercing duty that befalls the 5FC abode.

Becky is a rock-steady, calming sort of gal, and Paloma was completely at ease in her hands. She told Paloma what was happening, and while she was setting up each ear, she would glance my way and then lovingly say,

"Let your breath out, Sarah. We're not ready quite yet," because she is a good friend who didn't want me passing out.

Because your mom passing out while getting your ears pierced? That's not a traumatic event at all.

But clearly, the trauma was mine alone to bear, because does this look like a traumatized face?

I think not.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Ah, what idiot let the dogs out?!?

I don't know who opened the gate and let the dogs run loose, but clearly the dog days of summer have vacated Wisconsin. C-O-L-D has arrived, along with damp and blustery. So much so that we said "Screw it" to our holiday lake plans for the next 2 days (because seriously, cold, wet, weather, 5 kids, 2 dogs and a 29.5 foot trailer--what part of that sounds like fun to you?!?)

So cold that I have 2 pots simmering on my stove: one holding the not-yet-picked-over remains of an organic chicken that I bought at our farmer's market (I bought the chicken whole, and roasted it for a special First Day of School dinner for my carnivorous offspring) which I am using to make the Pioneer Woman's delish Homemade Chicken and Noodles (soup--click on the name of the soup and it will take you to the recipe; I'm just too much of a techno-tard to figure out how to change the color on my blog)

The other is holding a simmering batch of Pioneer Woman's Black Bean Chowder with Yogurt-Cilantro Relish (again, clicky there) Which is truly the best soup on the planet. I'm talking orgasmic, people. And if you make it, don't slack and skip the relish because it takes the chowder from a regular ol' orgasm to a tantric orgasm.

Really, truly, it's that good.

Anyhoo, we survived the first three days of school and I just have to LOUDLY ANNOUNCE, for the sake of the "Christian" *!@&#$ homeschool mom-bitch who said to me at the annual "Christian" homeschool association meeting: "Uhhh, you mean after 30 months of waiting to get them home, you are sending them off to all-day school?!?"

Putting the boys in kindergarten was one of the best decisions ever!

For both them and for me and for everyone. My 8-hour daily reprieve allows me to homeschool the others, have a moment or two for myself, and feel re-energized. Our home during those hours is calm, relatively quiet and completely conflict-free. I see the visible change in the homeschooled kids already, who truly needed the break in tension after a long, crazy-behavior-filled August.

By the time 3:00 arrives and I have to pick up my Haitian Sensations, I feel excited to see them. Which, when you have a RAD kid who is exceptional at sucking the air out of your home and you typically count the hours until you can put him to bed, is an AWESOME feeling to have. It makes me feel like a real mom, instead of a crazy lady trying to hold it together.

The boys have done really well so far! They are making friends and both are cooperating well with the teachers. When Keenan comes home from school, all he wants to do is grab Hatfield and Atticus and play freeze tag outside. He works so hard at "holding it together" all day by sitting, listening, focusing (which isn't easy for him at all), that when he gets home, he just needs to shake it all loose.

Miles, on the other hand, needs a snack, a hug and some veg-out time in front of the tv. Both days he first played outside with the other kids, and I could see from the start he was in a foul mood and fixin' for a fight. I intervened twice and brought him in twice--not as a punishment, but as a "let mommy fill your belly and then you pick all by yourself what you want to watch on tv as a treat" type of privilege. He LOVES it.

We eat early here on school nights because they're all famished and if I don't feed them by 5 sharp they'll eat every snack in the house. So tonight, we're gonna hunker down with bowls of soup, watch a movie, and at this rate, do all of that in front of a roaring fire to drive out the damp chill in the house (because I refuse to turn on the heat before September 15--my God, which just had the air conditioning on less than 72 hours ago!)

Have yourselves a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Confusion and Delay

Yesterday morning was Miles and Keenan's first day of all-day kindergarten.

Proudly wearing backpacks bearing their own names, each boy brought to school a beach towel and a pillow for naptime.

I grudgingly bought the pillows, only because homeschool had me otherwise occupied and I just didn't get it together to make them pillows (I have 2 huge bags of batting just sitting, cluttering up the basement.) Lately I've been obsessed with two things:

1)Trying to really reduce the amount of monthly outgoing cash, because the Ad-Venture isn't gonna last forever and we need to stockpile some dough for a used-but-new-to-us vehicle.

2) Decluttering and becoming more minimalistic in my approach to life. A SLEW of fabulous minimalism blogs are out there for inspiration. But as we've been finding out for the past 12 months, 7 people in one home and their very basics create a full house as it is, without all the extra junk.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

So in that spirit, Hatfield 'recycled' two of the boys favorite shirts, long outgrown but still in the rummage sale pile, into pillow cases.

(Miles isn't nervous or worried here; he's just scratching his head because there were 10 million mosquitoes outside that morning)
Miles and Keenan were SO very excited and tremendously proud to display what their sister created for them.

Hanging out with 'Chocolate Ethan,' who is a different child than 'Blahn Ethan'

The day went very well for each of them. Both little boys greeted me with smiley, shiny faces and full reports of what they did throughout the day.

They passed that first day with flying colors.

Manmi, on the otherhand, flunked Kindergarten Mom 101 and caused grand Confusion and Delay for poor Keenan.

Over the summer, I hit the rummage sale of a lady who had 8-year old twin boys. I have nearly 6-year old pseudo-twin boys. Among other cool twin things, I scored two identical Cars lunch bags for a buck. Cha-ching!

However, I failed to do 2 things:

1) write my boys' names on their lunch bags, and
2) notice that the previous owners' names were written on the lunch bags.

So Keenan gets to school and puts his lunch bag in the classroom lunch basket. Lunchtime comes, and Keenan has NO idea which lunch bag is his, because he can't remember what's on it.

The teachers are looking for Keenan's bag, and they find a bag with the name "Collin" on it. "Keenan, do you have any brothers named Collin?" they ask him.

"No," he resolutely answers. And he's right.

So the teachers were completely perplexed and had to go through their class lists to make sure that a Collin was not in the class or enrolled in Kindergarten, in case they somehow 'misplaced' him.

I don't know about you, but a teacher admitting that to me doesn't install a huge amount of confidence in their ability to keep track of my child.

So there you have it; that's how little ol' me managed to cause Mass Confusion and Delay on the first day of Kindergarten.

What did my boy do for lunch?

Instead of just giving him the nowhere-to-be-found-Collin's lunch,Keenan took hot lunch where he was fed---gag-- chicken nuggets and 'smiling' potato bites (McCains?)

How exactly that shit meets the district's 'nutritional' requirements is beyond me because--News Flash!-- It Ain't Food!

That probably sounds contemptuous. I am trying really hard to get over my complete distrust for the school district, since my boys are in a public school and all, promise.

This morning marked Day 2 of Kindergarten and I had my Mommy Mojo on, sending the boys to school with lunch bags bearing their names (four times per bag, no less) and all the 2 billion forms that they sent home yesterday filled out.

Here's to hoping that today I receive a passing grade. And that Keenan can find his lunch bag and eat a lunch of actual, real food.