Monday, March 28, 2011

When fear begins to take over. . .

Since Christmas break, Miles has, slowly but surely, become increasingly fearful and unhappy.

The shift is subtle, and sometimes I think I'm nuts, but it is definitely there.

The 'crazy' lying has become more consistent.
The dark, angry face is given to me each morning.
The just-under-the-radar disobeying/sneakiness is becoming a bit more blatant.

The "school honeymoon" is over. The teachers are no longer oozing affection over him, and Miles is upset.

Miles consistently challenges and disobeys all his female teachers. He feels angry with them and he doesn't want to listen. "I want to do what I want to do," he'll tell me. He wants his teacher to be his parent, and he's angry that the teacher doesn't want him to be his child.

Points for honesty. But what to do?

For months now, we've been going over 'Safety Dialogues' to help reinforce the notion that he is Safe here and does not need to be in Control. He can be a Kid (Kids Learn, Play, Obey and Have Fun) without having to be a boss. Mom is the Safe Boss.

I have been telling him that Mom would NEVER, NOT EVER send him to a place each day where he is not safe.

That's been a problem. Because, so much of school makes Miles feel afraid and in danger.

Recess at public elementary school is like scene out of Lord of the Flies.

Life in the orphanage is like real-life Lord of the Flies.

See the unhealthy connection?

Recess sparks a deep, dark fear in Miles. A fear to be In Control. A fear that if he is not In Control, he is In Danger.

At home, we'll talk about feelings, and he shares with me that it makes him "really angry" when his classmates won't listen to him, so he yells to make himself heard.

No one listened to him in Haiti. He was the quiet, sneaky child with an infamous pout.

He has a rep as a playground bully. He is constantly yelling at kids. Miles is a big little boy with an angry face and a BIG voice, so this does not go over well with the recess monitors. He yells at the kids to Shut Up. He yells at them that he Won't Be Their Friend. He yells at them You Baby! He yells at the recess monitors to Give Another Chance! He is constantly put in time-outs or in full-fledged lost recess.

He feels angry and rejected.

We talk a lot about the fact that kids don't like being yelled at. Miles himself doesn't feel good when someone yells at him. So if he wants to play with the other kids, and make friends, he has to be nice. The Golden Rule.

Well, the Golden Rule pisses this kid off. The Natural Consequence of not following the Golden Rule makes him feel like Nobody.

And feeling like Nobody makes him feel scared.

Which turns his Control switch to "On."

Which manifests itself at home in a litany of behaviors. Which interrupt healthy bonding.

I really am not sure what to do here. If anyone has any advice or feedback, book suggestions, etc. I'd greatly appreciate it. Because I'm in a trench here, and I'm looking for a way back to solid footing.




Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dear My Lover, Do You Believe in Nature or Nurture?

Many a parent has thought about the Nature vs. Nurture debate when looking at their own children.

The nature versus nurture debate concerns the relative importance of an individual's innate qualities ("nature," i.e. nativism, or innatism) versus personal experiences ("nurture," i.e. empiricism orbehaviorism) in determining or causing individual differences in physical and behavioral traits. (Wikipedia)

I'd like to think of myself as a loving, devoted parent who has worked hard to nurture her children from day 1. With a couple of my kids, I'd say you can see my nurturing influence.

Paloma is not one of these children.

This child falls fast and hard on the "Nature" side of the debate. Paloma is very much a Chamorrita (according to the Mister)-- she's loud, fierce, potty-mouthed, bossy, and when it suits her higher purpose, sneaky.

Mess with bull, you'll get the horns.
Which come in the form of an unblinking, stare-down pout.
Yikes.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The Mister's parents have been (but no longer are) living in Japan, for work purposes.

In Japan, clothing is inexpensive. So at the beginning of 2011, my very generous in-laws sent a HUGE box of new clothing and shoes for the children. And in the huge box were numerous vacuum packed bags of clothing, so when the we broke the vacuum seal, our kitchen looked like the inside of a Japanese clothing store.

Maybe. Truthfully, I have no idea what a store looks like in Japan. But my kitchen contained more clothing than any closet in our house at that particular moment in time.

It was pretty cool. We watched the kids go through their bags. Miss Paloma, the baby of the grandchildren, got a massive amount of clothing, so I ended up helping her since she insisted on trying on each item as it came out of the box

Eventually, I got to the last item in Paloma's bag, a sweet little striped dress/shirt. Unfolding it, I realized that there were words on this short.

So I hold it up to better read it.

I pause.
I squint.
I think, maybe I'm reading it incorrectly.

"Uh, Cliff," I say to the Mister. I flip the shirt around so he can see it.

"Does that say. . . ?" he asks.

"Yes, it does," I affirm. "It says: Dear My Lover."

Dear My Lover?!?

"Huh," he says. "Well, you see, in Japan, there's often a certain bastardization of language that occurs when they translate from Japanese into English. . ." he trails off.

Bastardization of language?

Really?

I nod. "I get that, but dude, your parents speak English."

We decide to place the shirt in the "to grow into" box.

Side note: "To Grow Into" is a bastardization of the English language that means: "I hid it in my summer clothing tub underneath my bed."

Fast forward to a several weeks ago, when I was beginning preparations for my trip to Orlando. Preparations which included the retrieval of said bin.

So one morning, in the middle of homeschool, Paloma calls to me from upstairs.

Actually, she calls to me from upstairs, but through the laundry chute. Because the laundry chute is across the hallway from her bedroom. And the laundry chute opens up into the top shelf of my kitchen pantry. Which is the liquor shelf. So the #1 rule is: Never put anything in the laundry chute, lest you should break a bottle of Mom's wine. Mess with da Mama's wine, you get the horns. Which come in the form of being removed from the will.

However, Paloma uses it to communicate more effectively with me when she's upstairs and I'm homeschooling in the kitchen.

"Uhh, Mom, I wanna snuggle wit' my Winne-da-Pooh bwankie, but the bwankie has twags on it, and dey are itchy, and dose twags are scwatching me. Can you cut off da twags wit' dissors?"

Winnie the Pooh blanket? With tags? What the heck? The only Winnie the Pooh blanket I knew of was one of Hatfield's baby blankets.

"Paloma, I have no idea what you are talking about," I respond, and go back to homeschool. All seasoned homeschool mothers have perfected the art of ignoring her children.

"But Mom! Dese twags are scwatchy. Cut dem off pwease!"

Thus was the message coming forth from the laundry chute every minute for the next 10 minutes.

Finally, exasperated, I went upstairs to check it out.

True to her word, there was Paloma, holding a perfectly folded Winnie the Pooh blanket.

And sure enough, sticking out of one corner, was a price tag.

A price tag with Japanese writing on it.

That little sh*t found the "Dear My Lover" shirt and folded the shirt up, ever so tiny and carefully. She then proceeded to fold a blanket around the shirt, taking care to stick the tags out in a life-like fashion.

This is all Nature, people!
Not Nurture.
I do not teach my children how to sneak
skanky clothing in with baby blankets!
I. Am. Doomed. With. This. Child.

"Nice try, baby doll," I said, trying not to laugh. I couldn't wait to get on the phone to share that one with the Mister.

Before I could even finish my phone call, Miss Po had conned Atticus into cutting the tags off. She then pleaded with Hatfield to fix her hair like "anime girls."

The result:


"What does my shirt say?" Paloma kept asking all day. "Dear my luvah? What does dat mean?"

"Well, it's like writing a letter to a boyfriend.. . "I'd stumble.

"Maybe I shouldn't wear dis," she reasoned.

I sigh a breath of relief. Okay, so maybe there is some "nature" that goes into play her.

"I'll only wear it to my Hip Hop Dance class." She announced. Because, oh yeah, that's an appropriate venue for it.

No wonder some believe the Nurture argument is bullcwap.

This child certainly supports that notion.

Lord help me.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bit by bit

Over a year ago, we left the Church we had been attending for the better part of 3 years.

Leaving a Church is rarely pretty. Especially if you are open about your reasons why.

The reasons were numerous: an loudly bigoted/intolerant youth pastor (REASON #1); the church was becoming more and more vocal about political candidates (everyone has a right to vote, but I go to church for reasons other than an education in modern day politics); we felt constant pressure to volunteer, and there was a LOT of gossip in the volunteer circles. Way too middle school, way too much of the time.

Despite those reasons, it was not an easy decision. These people had held our hands and prayed with us throughout our long and arduous adoption. They celebrated with us when we brought our sons home.

But as the months went by, and our boys began to show more and more "problems," we found less and less support. People either wanted to hear all happy glowing reports. By offering: well, it only took him 2 hours to clean up the fecal matter he smeared all over my van, that can kill a conversation in about 0.1 seconds flat. No one wanted to hear the truth.

Some people thought we should be able to pray RAD right out of our child.

You RAD Moms are probably peeing in your pants over that suggestion. But No Peeing! It's not allowed at your computer desk!

Seriously, though, we'd listen and think, uh, hello? If RAD was something that could be prayed out of a kid, don't you think we'd have eliminated RAD by now?

Well, then we weren't praying right. I even had someone go as far as insinuate that we did not know how to pray correctly. That there are healing and praying secrets in the Bible, but we'd need to sign up for a class taught by a heavily anointed member to learn them.

Silly me. If I only knew how to pray correctly, then I could heal my RAD kid.

That one still gets me feeling a bit riled up.

So, we left. And the moment we did, I felt a huge weight lifted from my chest.

I spent the better part of a year feeling greatly disenchanted by our entire church experience. The entire thing had left me really pissed. I spent a lot of time questioning whether or not it was even worth going out there to find something new.

I kind of came up with a list of 'musts' in my head. Things like:
* No pressure to join or volunteer
* Respect for privacy
* No one calls each other "You awesome Woman of God" or "You Godly Family Man" crap
* No constant, judgmental tsk-ing references to people who were "no longer on fire for God."
* A curricula-driven Youth Program with background checks

After several months of looking and attending several Churches in our area, I'm pretty sure we found our Church.

We've now attended for several months. So far, so good. I can't believe what a relief it is to go to church and feel renewed coming out of it.

The most recent sermon has had my wheels turning all week.

This past Sunday, the pastor opened by explaining that when a person falls in love, the body releases a cocktail of hormones which create that "falling in love" experience. You all know what these hormones do to a person; we've all watched someone in that glow-y, dreamlike trance of new love (or we've been that person ourselves.)

The hormone surges last 3-12 months. After which, the relationship likely be cemented enough to move past the hormone-induced love/lust to the point where a relationship matures and couple work to grow the relationship.

Joining a church/becoming an adult Christian, a person often experiences the very same rush of hormones. This is evident when someone sees a person and remarks: "that guy is on fire for the Lord!"

But, after a period, usually 3-12 months, that person may no longer seem "on fire." They've calmed down.

There is nothing wrong with this. Churches that preach that we should all be "on fire" are preaching a message that goes against the very human-ness that God made in us.

When, in actuality, it is okay that the embers have cooled. This is when our relationship with God can deepen. This is when we grow our spiritual faith.

Part of growing our spirituality, he offered, is realizing that at the very core, we are sinners.

Growing as a Christian, it means that we don't strive to be perfect. Because that will never happen. And pretending that we can be on-fire all the time is as unrealistic as expecting two spouses to always have the "butterfly in your stomach 'in love'" feeling 24/7.

What it means is that we strive to survive in a better fashion, bit by bit, throughout our life challenges.

Over the course of time, we grow. We face our daily challenges and obstacles and we try to be a little more patient, a little kinder, a little less judgmental, a better listener, etc.

It was weird, being in a church where the pastor is telling us: don't be perfect. Don't worry if you don't feel like you are "on fire." Just focus on growing, bit by bit.

I like that message.

I think about that a lot now when I look at my boys. Children with attachment and trauma issues may heal, and then grow, but it is done at such a slow pace. Sometimes so slow that you are standing still. Or moving back in time.

I don't have to be "on fire" in the way I parent them. Because let's face it: My "in love" hormones that propelled me through the adoption were extinguished shortly after their homecoming.

I don't have to be perfect in the way I parent them. I don't have to know how to pray the right way. I don't have to employ the latest catch phrases.

But I can grow bit by bit. More patience. More empathy. More grace. More kindness. More acceptance. I can work on offering it to them.

I can work on offering it to myself. Bit by bit.




Monday, March 21, 2011

Just Can't Get Enough

This weekend, I had a major hankering for some very good Mexican food. From my own kitchen. So I set about looking through some cookbooks.

I know that the internet hosts a wonderful assortment of recipe sites, blogs, etc., but I look sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of tea, pen and paper and a pile of beloved cookbooks.

It's one of those special channeling-my-Polish-Grandmother moments which I cherish.

I LOVE Ree Drummond's cookbook. I adore her blog, but I LOVE her cookbook.
Yesterday, I found her Enchiladas Recipe, and Hark the Herald Angels did sing.

Why the woman just calls them "Enchiladas" is beyond me. Because they are WAY MORE than just enchiladas.

They are the food we Just Can't Get Enough of.

They are the Miracle Food That Pulled Miles Out of His Funk. Because seriously, my boy loves to eat good food, and he thought I was the Queen Bee Mamma Bomba for making this food of the Gods.

Disclaimer: Of course, Ree's recipe (don't you love that? I call her Ree, as if I know her or something. Which I don't. But a girl can pretend) calls for the use of ground beef.

Which, if you have read my blog for a while, you know, I don't use. For many, many reasons. Some of which are political. Some of which are health-related. Some of which are planet-related. I won't go off on my rant about ground beef, but I will just say that I believe that if you yourself are not willing to both slaughter and/or watch your food being slaughtered, you probably shouldn't be eating it.

And since I'm totally not willing to watch some cow be sent to its demise, I do not partake in the eating of beef. Just my opinion.

ANYWAYS. Instead of using ground beef (I throw up a little in my mouth every time I write that), I use:

* Black Beans
* Sweet potato, cut into very small cubes
* Cilantro
* Garlic

Sauteed in olive oil. Then I add in the onion and diced green chilis.

Here is what made the enchiladas SO HEAVENLY. I had NO IDEA that this was ever done in cooking. I have many recipe books, and this is the ONLY one that has this technique in it.

Take corn tortillas. LIGHTLY fry them in canola oil so they stay soft.

The Mister's Motto: Everything Tastes Better Fried. Even though the enchiladas were vegetarian, he was TOTALLY OKAY with them because the corn tortillas are fried.

After you fry the tortillas, you then DIP them in the sauce (you make a boatload of sauce!)

People, why did I not know about DIPPING the tortillas. Because Holy Hell, DIPPING is what makes ALL the difference in the world.

After The Dip, you stuff them with goodness and smack those daddies down in a pan.

The recipe calls for Sharp Cheddar Cheese. I am not a vegan, nor will I ever be a vegan, because I heart Cheese. I suppose I have to, being from Wisconsin.

And for the record, I'm okay with eating cheese, because I'm okay with milking a cow and turning it into cheese. In fact, this is something I have done before. Because I grew up in Wisconsin, and when you grow up in Wisconsin, you do that milking cow-cheese making kind of stuff on school field trips.

Because that's just how we do it here.

If you think of being wussy and using mild Cheddar in this recipe, smack yourself upside the head.

Don't be afraid of Sharp Cheddar! It is not a deadly ninja sword. It will not kill you.
I doubled the recipe and made TWO HUGE PANS of awesomeness. I have enough sauce leftover for a third pan, but I didn't have enough bean/sweet potato mix so I froze the sauce for another day (like tomorrow.) Here is a picture of the second pan I made, although it's cold from the fridge. Once I re-heated it for lunch, it was all golden and bubbly. But I was too hungry and impatient to try and take a pic then.

Because holy moly, never again will I ever make my white-washed, wimpy enchiladas that I used to think weren't all that bad. Because you know what?

Compared to this, they REALLY SUCKED.

If you love someone,
you should make them these enchiladas.
If you don't love someone,
you should make these enchiladas for yourself.
If you don't love yourself,
you should make these enchiladas for yourself
because you'll then love yourself
for giving yourself such a delectable gift of food.

Since I cannot blog you a pan of enchiladas, I shall do the next best thing and give you the Gift of A Song You Won't Be Able To Get Out of Your Head, courtesy of one of my all-time faves, Douche Mode.








Sunday, March 20, 2011

Returning to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

My poor blog has been badly neglected thus far this March. Back-to-back trips, first Orlando and then Madison, tied up the schedule big time.

Then there was the typical, post-vacation suck-the-nothing out of your time things. Two trillion loads of laundry, kids who wanted to be fed homemade food not made by their Dad ;) , a house that needed to be cleaned to avoid being placed on the condemned list. Yadee yadee.

And I wouldn't be an honest blogger without mentioning that Miles nutted up this past week. Big. Time. Like, he was drafted up into the Big Leagues of Nutting Up. Awesome.

The best I can figure is a toxic coctail reaction to the following situations:

* First, my leaving created some big "unsafe," "angry" and "fear" fear. When Miles feels unsafe and fearful, he feels a desperate need to be "Boss" of everything in his life.

Unfortunately, when Miles is angry and feeling unsafe, his need to be "Boss" usually manifests itself into dreadfully unhealthy and unsafe behavior.

* The second factor: The Mister did a great job of being a fun, Disneyland Dad when I was gone. This may sound like an insulting statement, but please believe it is anything BUT that. Typically I'll leave and he becomes cross and militant towards errant children. Seeing their Dad cross and militant creates huge anxiety in Atticus, and Hatfield finds the environment to be highly unpleasant.

So, the Mister was able to really focus on being emotionally available and level for the neuro-typical kids. WHICH IS AWESOME! I am really proud of him, because it is NOT an easy thing to do with a life-sucking child in the house.

However, the only way he could be Disneyland Dad is to include all the kids and ignore any behavior of Miles.

That seems to trigger an interesting reaction in Miles. On one hand, Miles loves the treats and extras. But, the treats and extras lead him to feeling like He's the one in charge. Kind of like an ego thing, maybe? But when he feels in charge, it seems to trigger those subconscious "I'm in charge, so I must be in danger, or else I wouldn't be in charge. So I BETTER be in charge to stop the danger" sort of feelings.

Thus, the situation creates a Double Whammy "I need to be Boss" effect.

Ugh. But whatever. Whachyagonnado?

I'll tell you what I'm gonna do!

I'm gonna get together with my girls. My lovely G.B. Knitting Ninja's.



Having a loving, local and constant support group has made my life so much better. Like To Infinity and Beyond better.

When I was in Orlando, my heart ached realizing how many women out there have No One in their physical, daily lives.

Seeing people connect and now have support is amazing.

But in Orlando, I truly realized--I mean, I always knew-- but being reminded of what my life was like before I met these two women, and now knowing how much better my life is now-- I realized just how invaluable they are to me. How much better my life is.

I am SO GRATEFUL to have this.

This week is Spring Break week for us. No dance, no music, no kindergarten. Knitting, OF COURSE. We shall never take a Spring Break from Knitting.

Although, maybe we should take a Spring Break FOR Knitting.

That would be totally kick-ass.

Either way, I have a lot of plans for catching up. I have a lot of thoughts and posts I want to write. So hang on! More programming is coming your way shortly :)


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why yes, they all can hear you, Paloma

I have some
Serious.
Lash.
Bling.
Envy.



I may not be the "Clueless Dance Mom" that I was last year, but I still have yet to get out my bedazzler & make a tight shirt that sparkly proclaims "Dance Mom" over my assets.

Maybe that comes with time? Or not.

The kids are rocking their dance competition.

This is year Atticus shares the Petite Troupe with a fellow male dancer, his buddy Lucas.
How cute are they? Yet despite the fact that it is 2011, the Mister and I still continue to field dipsh*t questions about having our son in dance:

How did you convince your spouse to let your son dance?
Does he actually like to dance?
Aren't you afraid he's going to get beat up?
Wow, I'd love for my boy to dance, but I'm kind of scared it will make him . . (gasp). . .gay.

Really. Really?

For the record, we're not worried about him getting beat up. He actually LOVES to dance. He doesn't feel that hanging out with 17 adorable girls to be a hardship. AND, we really don't give a flying f*ck about our childrens' sexual orientations, because we love them for whom they are.

Plus, the dance teams with boys on them tend to score significantly higher than all-girl teams.

I feel like I should maybe hand out business cards stating our Core Beliefs About Boys in Dance.

Hatfield moved up to Teen Line this year. I can't stand how old they look!
These girls have mad. Mad.MAD tap skills. Their routine this year is to the song Stomp, and it is crazy good. I had tears in my eyes because I could NOT BELIEVE that my girl was on the stage.

And then there's Paloma.

Paloma dances, but not competitively. However, as Paloma will tell you, she likes to watch kids dance.

Additionally, as Po will tell you, all the dancers at BCFD (their studio) know who she is. And she's not kidding. We go to these competitions and kids I've never seen before come up and high five her. Many of the high school girls pick her up and carry her around. Every girl on Atticus' troupe knows her and would like to adopt her. Call her Galinda, 'cuz this girl is Popular.

So I take her along. Paloma handles the dance competition with aplomb.

Sometimes a bit too much aplomb. It's more like she's a bomb, rather than she handles it with aplomb.

At one point this morning, a beautiful lyrical group was on stage, performing to the soft, haunting song "Do You Hear Me."

As you might have guessed, the singer asks, "Do you hear me?" in the lovely, hushed song.

Paloma took the opportunity to answer, in her loudest, most severe and slightly irritated voice:

"YES I CAN HEAR YOU!"

It was met with chuckles and snickers throughout our section. I wanted to die.

"Po, be quiet!" I hissed at her.

She looked at me incredulously. "What? They kept on asking."

She continued to look at me like there was something wrong with me.

Good lord. I am so doomed with this child.

Fortunately, we are allowed to come back and watch Hatfield tomorrow morning. I'm thinking Paloma might need a dose of Benadryl to reign in her Po-ness prior to the show.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Home again, but not for long

* I am home from Orlando. Orlando was so incredible that I can't even begin to find adequate words. So for now, I'm not going to. EXCEPT to say that I met an absolutely amazing group of women were there. And I'm now honored to be friends with some of the most incredible women in the world. And now I know, without a doubt, that no matter what curve balls life throws at me, I Am Not Alone.

That is priceless.

* Corey Waters, the mastermind and lead planner of this event, is the bomb. There are no words I can offer to adequately reflect the complete adoration, respect and gratitude I feel towards Corey. Laura M. is a goddess who put together the most amazing food/menus imaginable. I mean, not in a thousand years could I have even imagined how good it would be. Angie B. hosted a Heartline Purse Party to benefit Haitian Women. Betsy & Barbara & Carrie put together a kick-ass 5K. The behind-the-scenes work and dedication these women put into the event was mind-boggling. Many women donated prizes, brought gifts for everyone, or baked food and sent it to us! The love was overflowing.
They are priceless.

* Back in January, I made a New Year's Resolution to take care of myself. Orlando was my #1 way of honoring that resolution. I have come home feeling like I found myself again. I don't feel alone anymore in the trials of my life. And I can't think of the last time when I had hours---HOURS-- of time to think and reflect on my life without the interruption of family-induced stress. AND, I found my brain again! I feel refreshed and re-energized. When my mom called me this afternoon, she said: "I feel like I have my old Sarah back again!"

And she's right.

It's a great feeling. It's a great feeling to feel like I'm gonna kick some ass in this lifetime, instead of feeling like life is kicking my ass. Hoo-rah!

* The Mister and children did very well without me. I am very proud of them. So far, I haven't been able to find too many "My mom went away without me!" behaviors, with the exception of Keenan, who suddenly "didn't know how to put diaper on good" anymore at bedtime.

What Keenan didn't plan on was the fact that the Mister has zero sense of smell and couldn't sniff the knock-you-out *pea* odor in the room. So my boy slept on some absolutely rank sheets until Manmi came home and nearly vomited the moment she walked in the house. Natural consequences suck (for him! for me, I love them!), and maybe someday he'll catch on. Oh well.

But you know, if that was the worst of the "my mom went away without me!" behaviors, I'll take it.

* Prior to my plane landing, the Mister warned me MANY times over that the house was in really, really, REALLY bad shape.

This is his usual strategy, completely over-exaggerating just how filthy the house is, so that when I come home I'm like, "Seriously? This is nothing! It looks great!"

This time, however, he was not lying. The house truly is filthy. Like filthy on a cellular level.

But you know what? I don't give a flying fig. Because I went to Orlando. And I had a fabulous time. And I Am Not Alone.

He could have let the kids watch the 8 season box sets of Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place and fed the kids nothing but Twinkies, and still, I would not care. Because I WENT TO ORLANDO!

* Tomorrow I take Hatfield, Atticus and Paloma out of town for a dance competition. I am really looking forward to spending some trauma-drama-free time with these kids.

When I'm gone, Hatfield and Atticus really step up to help keep things moving along in a calm fashion. Which is not always fun, nor is it always easy. So as a reward, I'm going to keep things really fun for them this weekend. I was able to snag a free room upgrade to a whirlpool suite. We're going to eat pizza in the room, swim until we're pruned, and then watch a movie in our room. We'll go to a restaurant on Saturday night for dinner with a bunch of other families, and on Sunday we'll stop at Trader Joe's before we head home.

I look forward to the day when I can take all of my children away to events like this. Yet, at this moment, my other 2 little guys can't handle the schedule changes, noise and chaos. Someday they might be able to, but for now, it would do them more harm and instigate more setbacks than anything good.

* Sometimes it is hard to see just how far our kids have come when there are still so many limitations that exist in their day-to-day lives, but yesterday I had a great opportunity to see just how far my Miles has come along. Last night, he attended a birthday party. By himself, sans siblings. He did wonderfully. He was polite. He was well-behaved. He left with grace and dignity. He came home and was polite. He went to bed with grace and dignity. He woke up in a great mood.

Holy Moly. It is an awesome thing to see.