Thursday, February 25, 2010

Trixie Says

Trixie Says:

It's a Proven Fact that Papilllons are
the True Cause of Dinosaur Extinction.



Why? you may ask.

Because they taste like chicken.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Getting our arses kicked

A few weeks ago, the Mister and I decided that we needed to implement a workout regime into our lives.

Both of us have taken a few health blows in the past couple of months.

The Mister has high cholesterol, high triglycerides, elevating blood pressure, pre-diabetic glucose levels, and a major freaking out wife because her own father, afflicted with all of those things, passed away at the very young age of 42.

I don't have any of those things, thankfully. HOWEVER, in the past 5 months of minimal working out, I have developed:

* a flabby stomach I no longer recognize as my own
when I look in the mirror.

* Ripply Thighs.
Notice I said "ripply" and not "ripped."
Not that my thighs have ever been ripped!
However, they just have never dived into the deep end
of the Jell-O gene pool before.

* Boobs that are now migrating to my back.
I won't go into detail.

* A chin that is developing
a Multiple Personality Disorder.

Not that having these things makes me a lesser person; it's just that I'm not ready to have them just yet.

Of course, we live in Wisconsin, which means that winter is not anywhere near its finish line just yet. I don't enjoy trying to not slip and kill myself while running in snow/ice/slush. And while we could get a gym membership, neither one of us wanted the expense and in all reality, I will get up at 5 am to row in my basement, but I will not get up at 5 am to go outside in 10 degree weather to drive to the Y.

Soooooo, to make this long story even longer, the Mister and I decide to order this home workout: Insanity.



NOT that we buy into the gimmicks and think that we are even going to remotely look like any of these paid models. We don't.

However, the benefits were:

1) we don't need any equipment;

2) it's incredible cardio/weight resistance training which will hopefully help our running;

and 3) it's all there for you--the plan, the videos, the eating program (which is whole food-based and easily vegetarian. I REFUSE to try any South Beach / Atkins/ Gimmicky crap. Don't get me started on high protein/low carb diets and the dangers associated with them! And that's my soapbox for the day.)

We began this arse-kicking on Sunday. We quickly learned that they call it Insanity for a reason. Many reasons, actually. On the first day we had to take the Fitness Test. Which is where you see how many of certain exercises you can do it 1 minute.

So what if I could only do 2 Suicide Push Ups in 1 minute? I'm trying not to let it affect my ego. They're called Suicide, after all, right? Because hey! If I can do 6 by the end of the 60 days, that's a 200% improvement.

It's all about how you present the facts, baby ;)

So far, so good, though. If you can say that living in complete physical agony is good. But in this case, I think it is.

Although we have had to reign in our participation in Christine's 2010 Sex-periment Challenge because we have yet to find a position which allots for Thigh Muscle Paralysis and our inability to move our torsos without crying.

Have you looked at this challenge? You should, because it works wonders, both for yourself and your marriage. And it's fun. And it's crappy weather and what else are you going to do?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In a wink of an eye and a shake of a snaggle tooth, they grow up.

These photos

are the very last ones taken of my baby boy Atticus with both of his front teeth.

Here he is, in true Atticus form, giving me a wink and a shake of his snaggle tooth.

Last night, shortly after I took those photos, he "bumped" his tooth out with his hand while he was in bed. Apparently, he was very sleepy and went to scratch his head but "missed."

I gave him a big high five, a big hug, and sent him off with big hopes of a Tooth Fairy Dollar.

Then I climbed in bed and cried. A lot. Because I would really like my baby boy to stay a baby, just a little bit longer.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Joke of the Day

- As told to me today by Atticus, Hatfield and the Mister, all individually, all thinking that they were the first to share this funny. They were adorable, thinking they each got the scoop, and I laughed just as hard the first time as I did the third.

So here goes:

A boy was walking home from school on a sidewalk. All of a sudden, he heard lots of loud voices chanting "Thirteen! Thirteen! Thirteen!"

He realized that the noise was coming from behind a fenced-in backyard. "Thirteen! Thirteen! Thirteen!" It got louder and louder, but the fence was quite tall and the boy couldn't see anything.

Spying a knotty hole in the wooden fence, the boy went up to it to peek. The moment he put his face up to the hole, somebody's finger stuck through and poked him right in the eye!

Surprised and hurting, he fell back. And suddenly he heard the loud chorus of voices chanting "Fourteen! Fourteen! Fourteen!"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Living on the Edge

The Mister likes to Live Life on the Edge.

Bu,t when a man hits his late 30s and has 5 kids,
"living on the edge" takes on a
WHOLE new meaning.


Dear Mister,

Please Remember:
There is a fine, thin line between being a
Nagging ("Move that *#$(@ Laptop!") Wife


and a
Gloating
( "I Told You So!") Wife

It's only hair

At some point in the past 12 hours, my dear boy Miles snuck into his brother's "private case" and stole a few pieces of bubble gum.

Bubble gum which he then proceeded to chew, and mash the long, sticky strings into multiple locs.

Locs which I could not fix. Because gum is not on the "approved loc-ing substances" list. Not by a long shot.

I am trying really hard to convince myself, "It's only hair."

But it's hair that I spent hours--and I'm talking 50, 60 hours EASY--loc-ing. Hours that we spent by the fire, laughing at movies, and bonding. Hours where this child was happy to be with me, and not mad at me.

Having to shave it all off was horrible. My sweet Mister volunteered to do it when he comes home tonight, but I just felt like I should be the one to do it.

I asked Miles why he would do that. Why would you take that gum?

"Because I mad at you that I can't have gum."

Miles has been on the "Banned from Chewing Gum" list. Because when he chews gum at home, while in my charge, the chewed gum will end up in his pants' pockets, or his shirt pocket, or in between the cushions on my couch or in the carpet.

These gum catastrophes never happen in anyone else's presence, like Dad, Grandma or at school.

Hence, his placement on the Banned List.

I am exhausted and sad. I feel defeated. I shouldn't let this take the wind out of my sails, because it's only hair.

But it has.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thinking Outside the Box, or rather, Inside the Bucket

(I am purposely spelling it 'pea' to avoid all the internet pervs who type child and p-- into a search engine)

One of my sons has some major fear/control issues, which prompted our journey into therapeutic parenting. These issues manifest themselves solely towards Mommy, aka moi.

The most difficult thing with therapeutic parenting so far, for moi, is meeting your child where they are emotionally.

This is certainly Karma’s way of reconciling the control freak in me.

As of late, every time I make a request for anything --from trying to go potty before we go to the store to 'would you like juice or water with lunch?'-- makes this child Fashay (angry.)

Fortunately, he seems comfortable expressing these feeling, and he does talk openly about it.

When this child is angry, he wets his pants because one, he can, and two, he hopes it will make me angry.

Which, because I am working REALLY hard on keeping it together, does not make me angry (shhh--don't tell him, but it does! But I don’t show it to him). He’s also tried peaing on the wall, “missing” the toilet with fecal matter, and spreading chewed food all over the toilet seat, all as an attempt--in his words-- to make me angry.

Didn’t work. Mommy stayed regulated. 5 Gold Points for Mommy.

(Gold Points = Godiva Dark Chocolate Truffles)

Thus he resorted to the old tried and true of peeing on himself. Because he can control his pea.

And of course, the behavior at hand is never really about the behavior at hand, but rather what is causing the behavior at hand.

So instead of being uber-control freak and consequencing the heck out of this child, I am emotionally regulating myself and meeting my boy where he is. This is hard, because I would just rather he meet me where I'd like him to be. I'm a work in progress.

Today we discussed the pea problem, which is:

Peaing in his pants makes him mad because he'll feel cold and wet and yucky, and he doesn't like having to clean up after himself.

Peaing in the toilet makes him mad because it is what mom wants him to do.

So we brainstormed some ideas. He thought of diapers or pull ups, which I’d be okay with, except he can’t go to K-4 in pull ups. Not allowed. So he nixed that idea because he loves school.

I followed the advice of a few other BTDT parents and brought out a metal bucket for him.

Oh, the wisdom of my BTDT mentors. My boy loved it. His bucket for his business. I went over the idea that he has to clean it up after each use, and he does. Happily. All he has to do is say, 'Mom, I'm going to use my bucket,' so that I can supervise clean up.

My son and his happy pee bucket. I’m thinking about making a bumper sticker that says,

“My kid peas in a bucket!”

Of course, I’m making fun (which I would never do around him.) I told him that it was a good choice, and if it chases those big bad angries away, then this is GOOD.

All day long though, every time I have been in the bathroom, I sang this little diddy, to the tune of There's a hole in my bucket:

There's some pea in his bucket, in his bucket, in his bucket,

There's some pea in his bucket, and it's okay with me.

The last line is for, you know, to give myself the moral support. Because I have a kid who peas in a bucket.

And people wonder why, socially, I have fallen off the face of the earth.

Seriously though,I should not be so down on it. Maybe I could create a bumper sticker that would read:

My kid who peas in a bucket can kick your kid who peas in toilet’s a**.

KIDDING! But as you can recall from my Chuck Norris post, I need to approach all of this with a sense of humor. If I’m laughing and able to make fun a bit (again, never to him), then I know that I’m staying balanced and not getting too stressed.

So we resolved the pea issue (for now, at least), but then we had to move onto the food issue. Which surprised me, honestly, because this child loves food, and loves mealtime. But lately, mealtime has always equaled peaing in the pants time. So this son informed me that:

This son does not like it when I say, “Come on, kids, breakfast time!”

He does not like it when I say, “Lunch is on! Sit here and chow down!” “Soup’s on! Come ‘n get it!” doesn’t work for him either.

BECAUSE, as he told me, it makes him very fashay. He wants to play and do what he is doing, and eat when he feels like it.

Now, the CONTROL FREAK in me is freaking out at that. Like big, bright neon light freak out.

But the therapeutic mom meets him where he is. And right now my little guy is feeling a tremendous amount of control/fear at meal times. So, I asked him how he would like to do mealtime, where he could be happy eating, and not be getting mad at mom and peeing in his pants.

He first suggested we FORGET meals.

Now, EVERY part of the vindictive me wanted to say, “Sure! Great idea!” because I knew he wouldn’t like it.

But instead, the Mature Therapuetic moi said, “I don’t know, hon. You would be awfully hungry then. Wouldn’t you feel angry being so hungry?”

Yep, he decided that he would be hungry and that would make him really angry. Good point, moi.

So after talking about it, he decided that he does NOT want Mommy to cook for him. He wants to Cook for himself.

I pointed out that he is only 5 1/2, and as such, he can’t use the stove or microwave. That would leave a lot of sandwiches, cereal, yogurt and fruit.

He repeated all of that back to me: He is OKAY. He DOES NOT WANT me to say, “Breakfast time!” or lunch time or dinner time.

He wants to be able to make his meals when he wants. I said, "Okay. We can do that. BUT, if it is bedtime, and I will give you a warning when it is bedtime, you cannot decide that you then want to cook. And when it’s time to go to school, it is time to go to school.”

He thinks it’s awesome. I got a very big smile in reply to that, and it’s the first one I got in a long time.

Now, the common sense side of my parenting experience tells me that this is not going to last. Tonight is homemade pizza, and tomorrow morning is a bacon and eggs morning.

Yogurt is going to look mighty. . . yogurty.

But then the Parenting a Traumatized Kid side tells me Common Sense Experienced side: "Hey, your kid likes to pea in a bucket! You really think he might follow logic on this one?!?"

BUT, I am going to support him. I am going to encourage him. I am acting loving and told him that I am proud that he is working hard to find ways to help him fix the big angry inside his belly. And maybe right now a taste of independence, to help build his self-confidence and feelings about himself, may be part of that answer to help lessen that fear. Or maybe he'll end up not liking it, and he'll realize that it is okay to not have to control everything, and that it can feel okay to let Mommy be a Mommy sometimes.

Because I love this little guy. And I want to be his Mommy. Pea Bucket and all.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Let Chuck Norris Help You Help Your Marriage


The past 6 months have been among the most difficult and trying months of my adult life.

It is very easy to know that we should treat the ones we love better than we do anyone else. Yet in reality, this is very difficult to do. If we're not careful, it's shockingly easy to take out our hurt, exhaustion, and frustration on those closest to us.

Lord knows, I am guilty of that a million times over.

But since we have brought our boys home, for the first time in our marriage, something has 'clicked' in me, and I --both willingly and lovingly--put a huge amount of my time and attention into my hubby, instead of my old M.O. of giving my marriage the scraps---the 'whatever is left'--of my energy.

I am finding it more important than ever to connect with the Mister. Because more than every one else, he has my back in these crazy times.

Laughter is SO important. If we approached our current daily life without a sense of humor, we would get seriously bogged down in some major feelings of irritation, resentment, anger, etc.

This weekend the Mister and I had to deal with the following good times:

* A child who peed all over his bedroom floor.

* The discovery that this child has been secretly peeing all over the rug in his bedroom, for some time, judging by the stains on the rug.

* This same child who, when sent to the bathroom to rinse out the rag he was using to clean up his pee, chose to lock himself in the bathroom and flood the ENTIRE freakin' bathroom. Like the magnitude of Noah's Ark flood.

Needless to say, the Mister was fried by the time he left for work this morning.

So you know what I texted him this morning?

Chuck Norris ordered a Big Mac at Burger King.
And got one.

Each and Every Day, I text the Mister an Important Chuck Norris Fact. Among his favorites, thus far:

"Chuck Norris counted to infinity--twice."

"Chuck Norris does not have hair on his testicles.
Because hair cannot grow on steel."

and his all-time favorite:

"Some kids can pee their names into a snowbank.
Chuck Norris can pee his name into concrete."

Immature?
Sure.
Crass?
Yep.
Vulgar?
Nearly always.

BUT, the Mister loves it. He looks forward to having a laugh, and he'll know I'll usually send them at the most inappropriate times for him to laugh, like when he's in the middle of a lunch or sitting in a quiet waiting room.

In times like these, when less-than-pleasant issues face us on a daily basis, it's the little things--like Chuck Norris- that count for a whole lot.

Just don't tell Chuck Norris that I called him "little."

Because when the Boogeyman goes to sleep at night,
he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

And I don't wanna mess with a guy who scares even the Boogeyman.

Husbands are Awesome

(THE MISTER HiJACKED my blog while I was in the Shower. Here is his contribution to the great world of blogging:)

Nothing much here to go in-depth on. Like the sun rising from the east, it is just a fact that husbands (mine in particular) are witty, funny, and serve as the backbone of the family. My dear husband is like Atlas, carrying my world on his shoulder. And he does so happily, with a smile, and nothing but kind loving thoughts in his mind about how wonderful and perfect his life, his wife, and his family are.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

How I went Chuck Norris on Dyson and Finally Got My Vacuum Back

Dyson has been holding my vacuum hostage.

A few months back, the Mister bought US (read: MOI) a vacuum. I say US to humor him, because he's the one who busted his ass to earn the insane amount of money to buy the vacuum.

"Insane" indeed, but then again, having 5 children, 3 dogs, 2 cats and a dusty furnace is a whole level of "insane" on it's own.

Plus, as y'all know, the Mister is NOT allowed to operate, transport, or breathe upon the vacuum. And for good reason, the man is a Vacuum Decimator.

So a few months back I was in clean carpet heaven with my Dyson. It totally sucks, but in the good way that you want a vacuum too.

I should have known it was too good to be true, as the vacuum soon broke, and I learned just how DREADFUL Dyson customer service is.

To make a long story short:

* The first Dyson rep told me to bring my vacuum into a service shop 35 miles away from my house. I was not thrilled, but if they were going to fix my vacuum quickly, and for FREE, then so be it.

* We drive the said 35 miles to the said shop, only to be told we need a Work Order Number to fix it. Get out the handy dandy cell phone and call Dyson. Only to be told that THE SERVICE CENTER IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO FIX MY LEVEL OF MACHINERY. We would need to take our machine to a UPS store and have it shipped to Dyson.

* We drive back home and 70 miles later, my Dyson is on it's merry way to Skokie, Illinois, vacuum repair capital of the United States (I don't know if that's true. I made it up for Narrative Enhancement.)

* I am promised my Dyson's return within 10 days. 12, 15, 20 days go by.

* I call on Days 15, 18, 20, 24. Talk to a variety of Clueless Customer Serivce Reps. ALL claim that they will email the Service Department for me, and instruct me to call back 48 hours later. Because get this: Customer Service and the Repair Center do not communicate via telephone, and the Repair Center computer database tracking repairs and the Customer Service database are NOT linked.

* Each time I call back, the rep tells me that there is never any record of an email being sent out on my behalf.

* I E-mail the Dyson customer service address FOUR times. No response.

* Continue to call Dyson. Usual wait to get a rep: 24 minutes. Usual response: We're looking into it.

* As I ask reps to speak to a supervisor, I learn that Supervisors Don't Work at Dyson. Only Clueless Reps.

* Wednesday marked a full calendar month of Dyson holding my vacuum hostage. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and channel my inner Chuck Norris. Ooooo, I'm scary, I know.

I love Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris can TOTALLY improve your marriage. I swear, he can. I promise to blog about that secret next.

Google is an AWESOME tool. When you are working with a company that gives out NO information about themselves and offers no other contacts other than the most poorly staffed customer service number, turn to Google.

I typed in Dyson, their street address, "Tax" and "president" and voila! I soon had the email of a the Vice President of Finance and Operations.

* I emailed the fine lady and detailed my experience with their Sucky Customer Service (the bad sucky this time--not the good sucky).

* Within 2 hours of my email, I had received a response back for each of my FOUR emails I sent out weeks earlier. I called Customer Service and my call was answered on the first try (weird!) Not only was my vacuum fixed, but it was overnighted out.

* Received a call from a lovely woman who was the Call Center Supervisor. She profusely apologized and is sending me several accessories in the mail. She also gave me her direct phone line, which is now programed into my celly.

SO, if you are out there and getting the complete run-around from Dyson, let me know. I have their direct line know, and I'm not afraid to use it ;)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Don't organize a bake sale just yet. . .

We have had some Big!
Breaking!
News!
over here
at the 5FC abode in the past 24 hours.

Ready?
Brace yourself. . .

Our dear Little Keenan,
well,
His Mouth
and
His Ears . . . . .

broke.

To our surprise yesterday afternoon,
upon retrieving Keenan from school,
we found that our boys' lovely mouth and ears were broken.

He could no longer Hear or Talk to his beloved mother.

When he tried to circumvent her
and talk to his siblings,
oh, the horrors!
His siblings' ears could only hear,
Blahbady-Goobleky-Blech.

Had we had degrees in nursing
or attachment parenting
we might had realized that our little man was developing
a major case of Britchesus Gigantuous.

But alas, we did not catch it
until it was too late.
And his mouth was truly broken.
Along with his cute little ears.

Dedicated to our dear boys' recovery
from his horrible medical predicament
and determined to keep him OUT of the hosptial
or worse
a trip to the Mouth and Ear store!
we put him right to bed to rest
and recover.

Such good parents are we,
we realized that
the bags and bags of Valentine Goodies
(and good grief! what is up with these party-favor
sized bags of cavities some kids bring as
classroom Valentine's favors?)
and Valentine Candies
like the crunchy word hearts
would only further worsen
his already serious ailment.

And being the good parents we are,
we said, "Heavens no!
We can't have you eat candy!
Your mouth might even get More Broken!"

So we bundled up our little guy
with lots of hugs and kisses
lots of words of love
and prayed at his bedside,
"Lord, please fix our so!"
we wailed.
"Please allow for a Miraculous Healing
of his Mouth and Ears.
Please let him be ALL BETTER
in the morning."

But wait!
Don't start organizing a Bake Sale
to help pay for his new ears and mouth
just yet. . .

Because Wishes DO come true.
And you know what?
He is healed.
Hallejulah!

Crazy, huh?

If you can't beat the crazy,
you might as well join it.
Because sooner or later,
you'd get there anyways.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

"Dance Moms"

Hatfield and Atticus compete on competitive Tap and Jazz dance troupes (or as Paloma--a Fancy Nancy fanatic---tells us, 'that's a fancy word for teams.') In addition to the tap and jazz classes, they have to study ballet, take classes on flexibility and conditioning, and my all time favorite--leaping, because every well-rounded child should have taken a class on how to leap, right?

(Eye roll.)

Since this is their first year in Troupe, I'm learning in that this is Big Stuff in the world of child/teen dance studios.
Big Time Commitment.
Big Costume Commitment.
Big Money Commitment.
Big What Were We Thinking? Commitment

I say that last one in a joking manner, because we really are quite happy with dance.

I've also learned about the term "Dance Mom."
Dance Mom's fall into several categories:

Category #1: The Toddler & Tiara Mom
These Moms put their Heart, Soul, Pocketbook and Make-up Bag into their children. They all sit together at practices, have the teachers' cell phone numbers on their speed dial, and feel free to make choreography suggestions to the teachers so their little princesses get more F.R.T (that's Front Row Time, in case you don't know.)

These mothers FAWN over the costumes. When the costumes come in, they Ooooohhhh and Aaaaaahhhh over them. They stroke the costumes, rub the satiny polyester blend lightly over their cheeks, and have them professionally altered.

Category #2: The S*xy Moms
These are the Moms whose main goal in their post-20s life is for some male species to refer to them as a MILF just once in their lives.

Big hair. Big Makeup. Big Boobs. Tight Shirts. Tight Jeans.

In addition to being S*xy, they also like to be the "Cool" Moms who try to connect with their kids by acting like teenagers themselves.

Category #3: The Frumpy Frannies
They take up ALL the good comfy chairs in the dance studios, where they seem parked each and every day from when school lets out until the studios close. They stink up the joint with their Fritos and Cheetos and McDonald's Happy Meals. While I don't know their names, I know the names of all their younger children because these moms bring Nothing for these tots to do, so they are constantly yelling: "Tyler, get down off that counter!" "Marissa, stop eating the dirt in the potted plant, so help me!" "Danny, go ask the nice lady at the counter if she has any coloring books and crayons or toys for you to play with."

Category #4: The Rest of Us
We just try to get our kids to dance on time. We try to keep track of costumes and which tights go with what costume and do we need tan tap shoes and black jazz shoes, or is it the other way around? We try to mooch a safety pin or hemming tape off of a T&T mom since we didn't think ahead to actually have our costumes professionally tailored.

In other words, we are The Clueless Moms.

My friend Roxanne and I, who go way back to PreNatal Water Aerobics when we were preggo with Atticus and Eva, are certainly of the clueless variety. We spend LOTS of time labeling and making fun of other moms.

"Did you just see that Tiara Mom over there?" I'll say on the D.L. "She's gonna have to dry clean that costume because she just drooled over it."

Or Roxanne will come in, "Okay, I couldn't get a parking space because 5 Tiara moms out there are standing in a circle, STROKING the new ballet costume."

We gag.

God Bless friends like Roxanne.

* * * * * * * *
But of course, last week Hatfield came home with her ballet costume.

It looks like something out of a Fairy Tale.

I am in Love with this dress.

The next thing I knew I found myself stroking it. And wondering if I could possibly try it on.

I called Roxanne. "Help!" I wailed. "Hatfield brought home her ballet costume and I found myself stroking it adoringly!"

Pause.

Sigh.

"I did the same with Eva's."

Moment of silent. "I think it's okay with ballet. But promise me if I ever drool on a Jazz outfit, you'll bitchslap me. I'll do the same for you."

"Promise!"

Whew. As I said before, Thank God for friends like Roxanne. Because I don't wanna know who I'd become without her.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Staying in the Zone

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the wonderfully supportive and kind comments and emails I have received since my last post. You all have made me feel so supported and loved, and I am so grateful.

* * * * * * * * *

A large part of helping our boys heal and learn is to train myself to be aware of their current emotional states. Watching for shifts, and the accompanying catalysts. Observing their choices and corresponding feelings and triggers.

Remaining in such a hyper-vigilant state of observing their emotions is exhausting.

I used to think of myself as a highly patient person. Ah, the pride.

Note to self: God has a way of dealing with the prideful.

Since then, I have found my patience level broken. Remaining committed to teaching your children and helping them heal is surprisingly difficult. My children test me over and over again, and I find myself irritated and frustrated and hurt over and over again.

After a while, I find that it is HARD to make the choice to act lovingly and in a manner when they can heal. When all I really want to do is give them a punishment so they feel as miserable as I do at that moment.

See what I mean when I say that Therapeutic Parenting makes you confront all the Ugly in your own person? Sheesh.

Here's a recent example.

The other morning, the Mister has his laptop, his handheld device and a bunch of paperwork spread out all over the kitchen table (Note to the Mister: There's a reason why I had a huge counter installed in the office: it's your desk, baby!) I didn't dare touch it for fear that I would somehow turn something off while it was uploading information or other important computing things that are beyond my comprehension.

Of course, it was breakfast time, so I had to set the kids' meal out on the table.

"Hey kids, see Dad's computer there? He has a LOT of really important work stuff out, so DON'T spill your juice this morning, okay?"

Within 5 minutes, the Mister came downstairs and removed all of his stuff. No spills. Whew.

Within a minute of him removing the items, I saw Keenan deliberately put one finger on the rim of his full cup of juice. And slowly, but surely, tip it over. Of course, spilling away from himself and towards his siblings. And of course, I was in the office, so he didn't think I was watching.

Note to self: Sarah, you KNOW better than to phrase anything in the negative. Always, always, always put your requests in a positive framework, especially when requesting anything from a hurt and healing child.

Instead of saying, "Don't Spill!" I should have said, "Let's show Dad how Big and Strong we are and how we can do an AWESOME job of drinking our juice all gone."

My words and actions certainly can help encourage a different response.

By that time though, with Paloma and Hatfield squawking about spilled juice, I really wanted to holler and punish Keenan. I wanted him to feel as miserable as I felt annoyed.

See what I mean? Ugly, ugly, ugly.

I did put him on the thinking step right away. Because I needed to calm down. I went over and talked to him.

"Keenan, why did you spill the juice?" I know that I shouldn't ask a "Why" question. But I had no idea what to ask. Anyone out there with some advice? I'd love to hear feedback.

"Because I wanted to." he said.

"Okay," I nodded. "I get that. But what made you want to?"

"Because you said I couldn't spill juice."

Anytime I tell Keenan that he can't do something, unless he understands that it will have a directly negative effect on his comfort or safety (like, "don't touch the hot stove") he will do it. It seems to loop him into a cycle of deprivation or a cycle where he feels the need for something--a sort of entitlement--and he can't function until he does it. Many times he will wait patiently to seize the moment where he thinks he won't get caught (like the juice, when he thought he could pretend it was an accident), and sometimes it's just too much and he will do it right away, consequences be damned.

At this point, I had to REALLY focus on not getting M.A.D. Because I was. How many times does he have to fall into this loop?

The answer: until we help him heal and teach him other loops.

I then asked Keenan how he thinks Hatfield and Paloma feel about being covered in juice. And he said, "Sad."

"How can we fix this?" I asked.

"Clean up juice." he replied. All right. We're getting somewhere. Once he cleaned it up, I asked him about how he can help Hatfield and Paloma. "Say sorry." he said.

And he did.

Baby steps, baby steps, but I did one huge Mama victory dance in my room.

The book 10 days to Less Defiant Child says to picture your child in a moment when you absolutely loved them. I often focus on the adorable things the boys have done, the loving moments I've shared with them, to help me move forward in a positive manner.

I''m curious to know what things other parents do to help keep themselves "in the zone" when they are just fried by the constant testing and need to stay emotionally regulated themselves. Do you have a mantra? A favorite scripture? I'd love to know.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Parenting 101

I have come to the conclusion that in the beginning, parenting adopted children is NOTHING like parenting biological children.

I write, in the beginning, because that's where we are and I don't know, maybe some day I will feel differently.

Before you bring adopted children home, you may hear a lot of: "You have to treat your adopted kids the same way you treat your bio kids. Treat 'em the same, discipline 'em the same."

If I squint, I can kinda sorta see where those people are coming from. It sounds good in theory.

In reality, I have found it anything but helpful.

* * * * * * *

So four and six months ago, we brought home two beautiful boys.

And my life tipped Up.Side.Down. And if I'm honest, I don't feel like we're anywhere near righting itself. Yet. (I have great hope.)

When the boys came home, I didn't expect perfect behavior out of them. Nowhere near! I slowly introduced our expectations of them (look at mom when she's talking to you; look at mom while you're talking to her). Once we felt like they got the 'hang' of something, we would slowly introduce another expectation, (say "I'm sorry" after wronging someone; tell the truth; answer when asked a question.)

When a consequence needed to be doled out, we relied on what worked with our original three children. Talks (okay, lectures) about right and wrong; time outs (or time in's); restriction of tv/basement play or toys; and on occasion, a spanking.

* * * * * * * *

Ask me how it's working so far.

It's not.

We have replayed many behavior/consequence scenarios OVER and OVER and OVER again.

I know Rome wasn't built in a day. I certainly don't expect my boys' behaviors to diminish overnight.

But my Mommy Intuition has been telling me, "this ain't working" when I've taken the more traditional approaches to consequencing.

Over the past couple weeks I've been reading a ton. Re-read Beyond Consquences, Logic and Control. Found the AMAZING blog Welcome to My Brain and spent hours reading it and all the linkies. Same with equally amazing Corey W's blog. I've googled therapuetic parenting.

We have signed ourselves up for Therapeutic Parenting 101.

* * * * * * * * *

The purpose of this parenting style is to get to the WHY of the child's behavior to help them heal.. To determine where their behavior is stemming from . To treat the cause and not the symptom. To help the child heal from the trauma of their young lives.

A LOT Of it involves me. I know by now that how I react greatly determines the road I will be traveling on with that child regarding that circumstance. Will we be on Control Circle? Defiance Drive? Angry Avenue? Peaceful Parkway?

This is, by far, probably one of the most difficult things I have ever undertaken in my entire adult life.

I'm becoming painfully aware of my own ugly reactions. My shortcomings: my patience issues. My intolerance issues. My control issues.

I'm gaining insight into why I act the way I do. What I'm afraid of. Why I shut down when I'm faced with unpleasantries and why I have such a difficult time at opening myself up emotionally when it's all said and done.

* * * * * * * *

So far, I am sucking at this. Big. Time.

I am finding that I am re-building a support circle. I'm trying hard to surround myself with people who I don't need to "pretend" with. To find people who understand and can support.

I love these little guys.
I want them to heal.
I want them to have the world of opportunities before them that all children should have. In a perfect world.

I am trying to remind myself that God gave me these children because I am the right Mama for them. Because there were some many points in our adoption road where it could have fallen apart. Where the door could have been slammed in our faces.

But it never was.

There are days when I get mad at this whole thing because it's not easy.
There are days when I am resentful at how up-ended our home is right now.
There are days when I mourn for the normalcy we once had.
And there are days when I'm faced with behavioral challenges and I don't have a stinkin' clue about how to handle them.

So far, in all these failures, I often find myself questioning God's judgment when he gave me these boys. Because, most days, I don't have a clue. Most days, I'm worried that I'm actually adding to the damage.

For now, I'm going to keep the blog public. I might at some point create a separate blog where I can blog freely about these attachment issues and challenges, but for now, I'm going to test the waters here. I know how much reading other blogs by women gracious enough to stay public has helped me. And I'd like to 'keep it real' publicly here. But, there are a good deal of people in my real world who read this, and I'm not sure how comfortable I am with all of that.

I wish I had some profound bit of insight to share here or some elegant words to end this post. But I don't. Instead, I'll just end it awkwardly: We're here in this attachment journey. And I'm going to blog about it. And if you will kindly hold my hand (because putting so much of this 'out there' is scary!), I would be ever so grateful.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Smiley Goodness

My dear friend Shelly Swat Team called me yesterday afternoon out of the blue, at the MOST PERFECT time ever. One of my boys had a *really* bad day at school, and I was completely unsure how to handle it, and talking to her really balanced me out.

Shelly and her dear hubby and wonderful children moved out of the country a few years back, and we still have not filled the void they left in our lives. Especially the Mister, who not only lost a great friend, but a fellow MMA devotee. I love Shelly because even if we talk only once a year, we pick up with the same ease and comfort where we left our last conversation. Friends like that are few and far between, and everyone should have at least one friend like that, don't you think?

Thank you, dear Shelly.

The one request (demand, really, lol!) my dear girl had of me was More Pictures on the Blog!

So here's some smiley goodness comin' right at ya, babe!

Miles and His Dread-y Goodness
and one of his Best Buddies
(sorry, I can't tell which cat that is)


Keenan and his Lovely Locks


Keenan loves
Loves
LOVES
his big sister Hatfield


Po, Mommy and Atticus.
Come on, you have to admit they are the spitting image of me!


Two of a Kind



We MISS you Swat Team! Come back soon and visit!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mid-Winter Lethargy


One of my Rules of Life is that if you are going to be the sort to complain about the weather, then you are only allowed ONE season to caterwaul about.

February 1 through March 31 is the onus of my seasonal misery.

This long, cold, booorrrriiiinnnnggg stretch of winter does me in, mentally and physically. No longer does winter hold the romance and wonder that it did upon its December debut. Too cold to run outside (or even work out in our un-insulated garage), the snow is packed down and icy, ruining conditions for snowshoeing and sledding with a crew of 5 kids.

Waaahhhh.

So to counteract this, I am making Change #1 in y life. I am now hauling my winter-induced super-sized daggan out of bed each morning at 5:30, to head down to the basement to work out or do yoga.

In theory, this should be easy, as I'm a morning person. Come June I can fly out of bed at 5 am without an alarm, I'm so eager to get a jump on a day filled with running, gardening, fresh air and sunshine.

This winter, I'm feeling more apt to hibernate. We've been sleeping in until 7, all of us, which is unheard of. But I realize that I really need that 90 minutes between my lonesome waking up at 5:30 to when the troops are up and ready for action.

And speaking of troops that are up and ready for action. . . mine are! The Trumpet is Sounding and Duty is Calling. . .

Have a blessed day!
Sarah