Saturday, March 31, 2012

We are Not Garage People

Every family has their special lingo unique to them. Let me introduce on of ours:

Garage People: People whose garages are organized to the extent that a vehicle may be permitted both entrance AND exit.

It's important to not both Entrance AND exit, because if you have a vehicle in your garage that just stays in your garage and cannot leave, while your working vehicle cannot enter and exit your garage so it sits in the drive, you do not meet the definition of Garage People.

The other day, my neighbor friend asked me about another couple in our neighborhood.

"Are they still married?" she asked. "I never see the husband around anymore."

Well, in our neck of the woods, you don't see many people around from November through March/April because there is snow up the wazzoo and people hibernate. So really, what she meant is, I haven't seen his car around, because really at this time of the year, we don't expect to actually see an actual life-form, just evidence of it.

"Oh, he's still around, you just don't see him because he's Garage People."

"Huh?" was the response.

At that moment, I realized that Garage People was indeed a unique phrase to us.

"Uh, Garage People. You know, people who are orderly enough where they can actually use their garage to store their car at night. That's why you don't see him."

"Oh! I get it! Totally." Pause. "We only can pull a car in one half of our garage. What does that make us?"

"Garage Half-Breeds," I explained. "Oh, maybe, since you have 5 kids and can pull a car in, Garage Savants, because that takes a special type of magic to pull that off."

A special magic, indeed. A special magic that we definitely do not possess.

This is our garage.

We are Not Garage People.

I do not think that the Mister and I can ever hope to be Garage People. At the very least, definitely not while we have 5 kids in our house.

The garage is the Mister's Domain. I'm not so much sure that is by his choice, but rather, by the fact that I am calling it His Domain. Because after all, every man needs some Man Space of his own, right? And what better space than the garage.

Several years back, I would periodically tackle the garage while the kids were playing. I'd sweep, purge, organize and attempt to find the top of the Mister's workbench.

Before the end of the week, it would be right back to where it was prior to my busting my hump for the day.

So, I gave up on it.

Not so much "gave up" as "relinquished control."

Not so much "relinquished control" as "delegated the mess to someone else."

I'm getting smarter as I age.

So if we are Not Garage People, then what kind of people are we?

* We're 9 bikes, 5 scooters, and a bunch of tangled fishing poles people.

* We're the how-the-hell-did-we-collect-7-booster-seats-when-only-two-kids-need-them people.

* We're the hang up our hula hoops on the bike hooks because the hula hoops won't hurt our heads the way the bikes do when we stand up too quickly after picking up the several dozen pairs of shoes, boots and rollerblades scattered all around the shoe bins people.

* We're the extra refrigerator out there that leaks people, and the I'm pretty sure no fewer than 9 mice make their home in the Mister's workbench people as well.

* And because the mice live in the garage, we are "Shake Your Boots Out to Make Sure There's No Dead Mice in Them before You Put Them On" people.

* We mix our rakes up with our snow shovels and all are accessible every month of the year people (which, really, makes us the Being Prepared for Anything people.)

* And lastly, we're the when we're at the neighborhood block party and everyone's had a few beers, and the love and friendly feelings are flowing, we apologize to our across-the-street neighbors for being Not Garage People (and, in turn, we are the We Have Awesome Neighbors Who Love Us Although We're Not Garage People people."

Maybe, just maybe, we're the People-Too-Busy-Living-Life-to-have-a-Clean-Garage People.

(Seriously, though, I don't think people who have clean garages are weirdos with no life. I'm just trying to make myself feel better because, seriously, have you seen the picture of my garage?!? If you are Garage People, be proud and know that you have my true admiration.)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Liking Himself

Progress with trauma/attachment-challenged kids can be deceptive. It does not come in the form of a shiny, happy child bouncing out of bed one day, who is just okay with being a child and letting you be the Mama.

It comes in a one step forward-two steps back-three steps forward-one step back sort of confusion.

It was this past week, when I realized that in my head, I now mentally group Miles along with Hatfield, Atticus and Paloma.

Please don't think me horrid. This separation of children isn't a sort of cruel biological-vs-adoptive warfare.

I have found this mental line is drawn amongst behaviors. For instance, in our house, a sort of mental separation I have is with the Bigs (Hatfield and Atticus) and Littles (Miles, Keenan and Paloma.) Those lines are drawn by maturity and ability.

Other lines drawn by behaviors: Kids who Pea on Stuff When Angry -as opposed- Kids who Use the Toilet. Or Kids who Hide Other's Shoes -as opposed to- Kids who Pick Stuff Up and Move On. Or Kids who Can Accept Their Role in a Bad Choice, Fix It and Move On -as opposed to - Kids who are Always the Victim, No Matter Their Role.

The constant, never-ending flood of so many of these behavioral paradigms create the mental groupings naturally, as ugly as it is.

In the past 3 months, though, a huge shift has occurred with Miles. Things are gelling for him.

We had a huge bump about a month and a half back, when Miles clamped down and refused to do the math and reading that were being sent home with him. His anger was beginning to spill over into all other areas of his life, and I could see we were hovering on the edge of a spiral.

His 1st grade teacher (who is WONDERFUL and I LOVE her) called a meeting with the Mama, Miles, the Reading Specialist/ELL teacher, and Miles.

She talked on and on about how very smart Miles is. That while all the other kids in the class grew up in a home where speaking English, Miles didn't start learning until he was 5. And that when they tested him for the ELL program, both testers said that they have never met a kid with such command of the language so early on (Seriously, they did. Miles is like a language genius, and his speaking/comprehension skills are crazy good.)

The ELL teacher talked about how she understands that Miles wants to be as Good or Better than all the other readers in the class. And that he gets frustrated, and then mad, so he quits. She then pointed out ALL the times when he struggled with a book, then practiced it over and over, and then read it the best of all the kids.

The teacher closed the meeting with: I don't think it's that Miles doesn't want to do homework. I think it's that Miles wants to be at the top with the fast readers. So how about, instead of one book of reading homework each night, I send home Two. So that Miles can practice even harder and become a better reader more quickly."

Wouldn't you know it, she was totally right.

Once figured out (he's a competitive kid, so give him the "extra special" tools to succeed, and he'll run with it), he's now SUPER excited and happy to do his reading each night. Often he'll ask to read Keenan's book as well, for 3 a day should have him caught up by the end of the year.

Wow! I am so happy and blessed for the village in which I am raising my son. I don't think I ever would have figured that one out on my own.

My Miles is growing. Progress is happening. Some days, weeks, months, so slowly I'm not really sure. But the proof is irrefutable.

My Boy Likes Himself.

My little boy who came home with a Self-Concept of Nothing or The Angry Boy.

Always alone and withdrawn in the Orphanage, Miles saw himself as the Boy Against the World.

But no longer.

What's in his head now?

An internal picture of a boy who can try hard and succeed. A boy who knows he is loved and liked by people.

Slip-ups happen. Some days/events are slippery slopes which trigger all of the Lonely, Angry feelings. When that happens, we talk about those feelings, and then we talk about those feelings.

Each night at bedtime, I have Miles draw/write in his Success Journal. The journal, purposely, is not a place for putting down lonely or scared feelings. Those feelings we talk about with Mama, who is a Safe Person who loves you and is here to help you.

The Success Journal is designed to specifically reinforce and build up Good Feelings about Himself. To get him, I guess the best word is addicted, to feeling proud and seeing the connection between hard work and feeling good about oneself.

We do this at bedtime so that he does not go to bed dwelling on a bad choice or a wrong that has been done to him. He spent the first 5 years of his life steeped in those feelings.

Now, when he goes to bed, I want him to have last thought about something Awesome he did that day.

Because this is huge. My Boy Likes Himself. And I don't ever want the feeling to disappear.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Juicing 101

I've received a lot of questions about juicing lately, so I thought I'd respond with a new juicing post.

I've been using a Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer for nearly 4 or so years now (with daily use for roughly 2.5 years of that, give or take.) It's still going strong. As far as juicers go, it's not an expensive one, and it produces a lot of juice with pretty dry pulp.

The LaLanne's Power Juicer is an centrifugal juicer, where the produce is first mashed and then pushed through a sharp-ish straining revolving at a high rpm. If and when the Power Juicer crashes, I will likely purchase a Breville juicer. Or, if I am lucky, a previously owned masticating juicer on eBay. But, I personally would not spend the money on a Breville until I knew I am committing to juicing and have fit it into my lifestyle (which I have, but it was a rocky start for a while.)

I juice two times a day. On occasion I will run two types of juice through the juicer once a day and refrigerate it, but the longer juice sits the more the nutrients break down (although, really, 4-hour old juice is better than no fresh juice at all, so no high horse is necessary here.) I rather enjoy the process of juicing, so twice a day is no biggie.

This is my typical morning juice (which gives the Mister and myself two Large servings of juice-- I serve ours in two quart-sized canning jars, with ice, and Hatfield a tall glass of juice)

4 - 6 oranges/grapefruit combo (whatever you like, or what's in the fridge), peels removed
4 - 6 carrots, greens removed (never juice carrot greens!)
2 beets, with greens (always juice the greens of beets)
1 lime, peeled
Strawberries, handful
Kale (1/2 bunch) and/or
Chard (1/2 bunch) and/or
Spinach, 2 - 3 handfuls
1 - 2 cups cold water to run through machine to get all juice out (savor EVERY drop)

The result?

A beautifully vibrant morning juice, aka The Red Rooster.

A word about Beet Juice: Beets stain like the dickens.

Your hands. Your counters. Your juicer. USE AN APRON. And, not to be gross but it's not something you'll find in many of your juicing books: your bowel movements will have a pretty ruby hue to it. If you drank a ton of beet juice and find yourself flipping out later that day thinking you have a bleeding colon or are losing your innards, take a deep breath. You're not. You just drank nature's permanent marker.

For an afternoon energy burst, I make Green Juice.

3 - 4 apples
2 cucumbers
2 stalks broccoli (I buy the stalked broccoli in the store, and save the stalks for juicing) OR
15 stalks asparagus
Parsley, 1/2 bunch
Kale (1/2 bunch) and/or
Chard (1/2 bunch) and/or
Spinach, 2 - 3 handfuls
1 inch ginger root (start small- a little ginger goes a long way. I LOOOOOVVVVVEEEE ginger so I use a LOT. Too much for Hatfield's taste, so I pour hers before I add ginger to the rest of it.)
Radishes- handful

A note about using broccoli or asparagus: these are pungent/strong tastes, but Nutritional Power Houses. The sweetness of the apples and cucumbers or carrots cuts down those tastes. Start small and add accordingly.

Instead of loading up on apples (which I think are too sweet), I like to cut down the strong tastes with the fresh zing of parsley and ginger and radishes.

The results:

GREEN juice. Really.

A few more questions:

* "Do you eat meals when you juice?"

I do, while the Mister does not and uses it as a fast (2 meals juice, 1 meal + snacks like nuts/veggies.) I eat oatmeal for breakfast and I make a pot of vegetarian soup on Sunday and eat the for lunch througout the week.

* Is there a big change to your grocery budget?

Honestly, there was not a huge change, especially when it is used as a fast vs. a supplement. However, I feel like we should add the caveats that 1) I'm a stay-at-home mom who makes nearly everything from scratch; 2) I don't buy much processed foods (some cereal and graham crackers, and yogurt) and 3) I don't buy any meat, and a vegetarian diet tends to be less expensive than a diet with meat and processed foods.

and one criticism:

* Juicing takes all the fiber out of the food, which is a huge waste and therefore stupid and a waste of time and money.

Well, no $h*t Sherlock. That's the point. Fiber, which is highly beneficial, also slows down the digestive process, which slows down/impairs the absorption of nutrients.

Most Americans are nutrient deficient. Juicing is a great way to get a huge, readily-absorbed blast of natural nutrients in a form that cannot be replicated by science. All of that hits your insides, is absorbed quickly, and actually cleans out your bowels without fiber.

If you eat healthy, whole-grain, non-refined meals with fruits and veggies outside of your juicing, you have no need to worry about the lack of fiber in juicing because you are getting plenty of it regardless.

If you are juicing and then the rest of the time you are eating processed, refined crap, then yes, you need to be worried about fiber. But, even in that case, it's not the juicing that is your problem. It's all the other crap that you are putting into your body and what it's lacking there that is your fiber problem.

*How do I know what will taste good?

There are literally thousands of juicing combinations you can make. I'm betting that your local library has no fewer than a dozen books about juicing in their cooking section, and while many hail from the 60s and 70s, the recipes are still good even if their nutritional facts are a bit outdated. I've picked up many a juicing book at estate sales, garage sales and Goodwill.

Here is the trailer to the documentary film, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. The film made a HUGE impact on the Mister, who up until seeing this film and Forks Over Knives, was a bit resistant to the juicing movement/vegetarian lifestyle. No longer.

Monday, March 12, 2012


While in Orlando, I was bitten by the Hooping Bug when the delightful Heather, with great patience and dignity, taught me how to hoop.

This weekend, with the Mister's assistance, I made 6 hoops--- one for me and each child.

The perfect weekend weather enticed us outside for all of Sunday. I was pumped and ready to start hooping. Since I've been unable to kickbox, my core strength and tone has taken a huge hit. It majorly looks like a woman who has five children. But the thing is, I've only given birth to three of them. See them problem? Hence my great excitement and motivation to Let the Hooping Begin.

How are we doing? Let's see.
. .

Hatfield can already lassoo/twirl/vortex.

Atticus can walk like an Egyptian with his hoop.

I'm pretty sure Miles breaks some land speed hooping record with his fierce intensity.

Keenan could hoop with 2 hoops
full speed
all at one time
about 5 minutes into it.

Paloma can jump a full 360 turn while hooping.

And me?
Well, I busted my lip on Day 2.

It's a good thing those apples fell fffffaaaaaaarrrrr away from my hooping tree.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Odds and Ends

* I am back from Orlando! Orlando, as usual, was: amazing, awesome, spiritual, wonderful, connecting.

Last year, I went to Orlando and opened up a lot of my own shiznit that I had to deal with. I came home, scared yet empowered, and managed to work through a ton of things.

Things I don't think I would have worked through had it not been for the love, support and wisdom of dear friends.

This year, I went feeling stronger, and came home feeling stronger and re-energized. Ready to tackle some new challenges and set some new personal goals.

Everyone should have a group of friends like these women.

* Although I loved every minute of Orlando and did not want to see it end, I am happy to be home with my crew. I missed my peeps a ton and am enjoying being back. Re-entry has not been painful, although I'm sure now that I wrote that, it will be totally horrendous, lol.

* We are in March. Our temps next week are forecasted for the 60's. I think I'm gonna plant some spinach and chard seeds, and when the weather is frosty (and snowy--let's face it, this is Wisconsin, and it's gonna snow at least once more), I'll cover it with heavy clear plastic. Just to see. For the fun of it.

* I've been a long time fan of juicing, but fell out of habit a year or two back. The Mister recently watched Fat, Stupid and Nearly Dead on Netflix, and made me watch it. Holy moly, is it a great documentary! I highly recommend it.

Anyway, we got back on the juicing train, with the Mister's momentum helping carry it along. I now juice breakfast and lunch (I eat whole foods too, so it's not a strict juice fast.) Cliff, whose psoriasis has been really severe, has nearly put it into remission. My complexion completely cleared up, and Hatfield, who was starting to get teen acne, has skin which is nearly crystal clear.

* After two weekends away from home, I'm just so darn happy to be back at home and have a chance to get some stuff done.

Sometimes, and more often than not, the simplest things make us the most satisfied.