Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tik Tok

The Haitian Sensations have a cute little morning routine when they brush their teeth.

Keenan:  "I wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy." 

Miles: "Before I leave brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack."

Brushing then commences.

This morning, I stuck my head into the bathroom and said, "Hey, what's a bottle of Jack?"

They both gave each other a look, which instantly made me worried and suspicious.

Both of naught, as I soon realized the look was along the lines of:  Whoa, our mom is DENSE.

"This," Miles held up the toothpaste.  "You know, this is a bottle of Jack Frost snow, but really, it just means toothpaste.  Cause you use it to brush your teeth."

Why yes, that's exactly what it means.

* * * * * * *

While I find Ke$ha (which I always say:  "Kay-Ee-Dollar Sign- Ha" just like the principal on Glee) to be pretty much abhorrent, I'll be damned if her music isn't catchy.

This song is my newest on the iPod, and I love it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Good Dog Gone

When I go back to the very beginning of my 5FC blog, it's quite evident to me that it's main purpose has always been a recording of our lives.   Many times I have blogged a sweet or funny moment with the family, only to forget, only to then have my blog help me remember.

Then the Haitian Sensations came home, and the entire experience of parenting PTSD/Attachment-challenged kids turned my life upside down, my blog kind of shifted.  I had zero energy for blogging many of the good moments because I was trying to just survive the rest of the time.  My blog was my way to reach out and find a community to help me get through these dark moments.

But now, having found such a community in my real, day-to-day life, I find that my use of my blog is shifting once again, back to a means of recording my family's life and times--our history, if you will.

So, a very sad event for us this past May was the passing of our beloved, 3-legged wonder Ernie.

It was time.  We knew it was coming for some time, and eventually, all too soon, it was very evident that the time was upon us.

I adopted Ernie in 1999, when he was about 7 months old, and when it was just Hatfield and myself.  Ernie made us a family of 3.  Ernie was three-legged even then, having had been beaten by a group of teens as a stray puppy.  He had been at the Humane Society for about 2 months when Hatfield and I went in one day and fell in love with his sweet spirit.

But man, though, was he a pain in the keester, as many good dogs can be.  He was a pain to house train.  He was a pain because he had the escape artistry skills of a canine Houdini.  And he was a pain because his very unique Beagle Bay seemed otherworldly.

But he was ours.  And we loved him.  And even though he had a horrible start to life, and I wouldn't have blamed him one bit never to trust a human again, that dog, he loved us.

He loved his girl Hattie Lou most of all.

A house full of kids and dogs and cats is not everyone's idea of a great life, but it is for me.   For me, it's everything.

I remember winter days when I would load little Hattie Lou up in her sled to for walks with Ernie.  Hatfield and I would stick to the shoveled sidewalks, but not Ernie.

He would bound--fly, really-- through those snow banks.  Floppy beagle ears flapping behind him.  Leaping like a jack rabbit, crazy-eyed with glee.  Those walks were delightful and amazing.

One of our favorite Ernie stories is that he caused us to nearly miss our wedding! Well, not literally our wedding, but I nearly missed the plane I was flying out on to Seattle so I could elope with the Mister.

I had put Ernie in our fenced backyard while I was loading up the car with luggage.  I had to drive Hatfield and I three hours south to Chicago's O'Hare airport, and I needed to get on the road, and quickly.

I went back to the fence to retrieve Ernie when I discovered him missing.  5 minutes he had been gone, tops, but as far as Beagle on the Loose time goes, he could gain a lot of blocks in 5 minutes.

Frantic, I searched the blocks up and down.  No luck there.  I strapped Hatfield into her carseat and drove up and down the streets, window open, because with Ernie I knew it was more likely that I would hear him before I could see him.

Finally, I gave p and headed home.  Sick to my stomach, there was no way that I could leave Green Bay without knowing Ernie was safe at home.

I unloaded Hatfield and went inside the house, picking up the phone to call my stepdad to enlist his help.

About 2 minutes into that call, I saw my neighbor and hero Glen carrying Ernie up the front steps.

Muddy and covered in compost, smiling ear to ear, tongue flopping and panting.

Ernie (not Glen.  Well, Glen was muddy and covered in compost, but I promise you he was neither smiling nor had his tongue flopping about.)

I made that plane, barely, and 12 years later, the Mister and I are still married.
In my mind's eye, he is in our backyard, sprawled through the grass, smiling in the sunshine, sniffing the air.

Man, I loved that dog.  We all did.

For me, this loss compounded my feelings of sadness that time is passing by so quickly.  I adopted Ernie when Hatfield was just a tot, and they grew up together.  Losing Ernie makes me realize all the more at how quickly Hatfield is growing up, and soon enough she'll be leaving and going off into the world.  What I wouldn't give to have my Hattie and Ernie little again.

Like with the passing of so many aged pets, a relief factor is present.  It was a relief to not have to wonder just how much discomfort he was in.  It was a relief to no longer have to worry that he would try getting down off the couch or attempt some stairs by himself when we were not home to help him.  It was a relief not to be woken up 3 times each night by his sharp barks calling us, to help him get off the couch, or go outside, or be carried upstairs to sleep on his doggie pillow next to our bed.

Yet every one of those worries, every one of those discomforts, every one of those times when we had to chase him down from 3 blocks over because he was on a wild squirrel chase. . . every one of those times was worth it.

Several times now since his passing, I have been awoken in the middle of the night by a single, loud, sharp Beagle Bark.  I'm pretty sure his presence is still here with us, and I think it will be for some time.  Not all of his kids are grown, and he spent many hours on the couch, just smiling and watching the busy, crazy life around him.

It hurts so much when we lose our most beloved of beloved pets.  But they make life so much lovelier, so much fuller, and so much more enjoyable.

We love you Ernie, and we miss you terribly.  
Bark and all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

School daze

Atticus is my "homegrown homeschool" kid who is experiencing the public school system for the first time in his life, at the age of 10/grade 4.

Each day, he comes home and spends a long time (like basically every chance he gets to talk about it)  telling me about his classes, recesses, kids at school.

I love it.  And I'm thankful he is loving his first year in a public school.    Among this first month's moments:

*  My little guy is sweet-natured and easy-going, but sensitive.  The first few days of school he would still be awake at 9:30 pm, crying and worried that he missed something his teacher said.

It's okay, we explained.  Your teacher doesn't expect you to hear everything.  You're human.  Just like in homeschool, you're going to miss some of the stuff your teacher says.  Sometimes it might be a big deal, but usually it won't be.  Just relax and try not to sweat it if you don't catch everything.  No one can.

Within a week, he realized that this is indeed true, and his anxiety is gone.

*He thinks Gym/Phy Ed is just about the coolest thing ever.  I inadvertently scheduled our flu shots during his Gym class, and he was so crestfallen that I rescheduled them.'

* He is horrified by school hot lunch.  Horrified.  As is Paloma.  My Haitian Sensations, not so much.  You put food in front of them and they will eat it gladly and with gusto.  Music to this Mama's heart.  But my homegrown ones?  A little more discerning with their food selections.

Last week, the Mister was in Dallas all week for work, and by Friday morning I was wiped out and slept in a bit.  In a frantic rush to get everyone up and out the door, I mentioned that maybe I would have the kids take hot lunch for the day.

Waking up for school can be hard to do some mornings.

My two froze.  "NOOOOOO!!!" they wailed.  "Mom, really, I'll eat a peanut butter sandwich-- please!"  Atticus does NOT like peanut butter, so I knew this was serious.  So I slapped together some quesadillas, threw in the last of the apples and grapes, and sent them on their merry, cold lunch-toting way.

* Our school is just over 50% Hispanic, and Atticus' particular class is about 75% Hispanic.  Atticus both looks Hispanic and has a Hispanic surname (although it comes by way of Spain and not Latin America.)  The first week of school, none of the kids believed Atticus when he told them he doesn't speak Spanish.  And no one really knew of a place called Guam so his explanation did not gel with the class.

"They think I'm playing a game and pretending I can't speak it," he said.  "Those kids need a SERIOUS geography lesson.  This is the problem with American education.  Geography does not begin or end with America."

I can't tell you just how much I love discovering that my kids listened to me in homeschool :)

* This week they had WKCE/State testing.  They were given a prep test so the kids could understand what was going on and prepare themselves for a day of testing.

Atticus, on his walk home:  "Mom, do you know that they have tests where you have to choose A, B, C or D?"

"I do."

"And did you know that you don't circle the letters?  I thought you had to circle them.  But did you know that instead you have to fill them in real tiny like with a pencil?"

That made me smile, and still smile when I think of it.  How these experiences are so new to him.  "I had to do that when I was young and in public school."

"It's kind of crazy.  And very inefficient.  And you know if you can explain something or write about it, that's really the best way to show what you know."

Ah yes, my boy, I do know that.    And I'm proud that you know that, too.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Reason #37,392 Why the Mister Makes Me Laugh

I love my husband. 

I'm not the best at showing it or professing it publicly,  But I do love him, very much so.  I love how he makes me laugh.  I love the enthusiasm in which he approaches life, and the way he demonstrates that zeal to his kids.

My husband is employed in the sales industry.  A career which is considerably far outside my comfort zone, I completely respect his ability to get up each and every day to put himself out there, facing rejection and sometimes being treated rather shabbily.

Yet he does it each and every day with an energy and flair that my husband possesses.  The truth is that Paloma has so much pizazz because she is the Mister's daughter.

Before you go and think I'm being sappy or dramatic, hold your horses.  Today I come bearing proof of that flair and pizazz.

His company recently had a Send Us Your Karaoke Video contest for their reps as a way to hype up a new product they are getting ready to launch.   The Mister received several emails from coworkers with comments like, "You were born to win this contest!"  which was all the prompting his Salesman Ego (I'm not being mean-- all good sales people need to have a delicate balance of humility and ego to keep moving forward while convincing people to buy whatever it is they are peddling) needed to try and go Over.The.Top.

Hatfield jumped at the chance to help him with his video as director and videographer.  He got all the kids involved, and one afternoon last week they all jumped in Cliff's car and drove about Green Bay, filming and dancing.

And here's the end result.    Enjoy!

Monday, October 08, 2012

Hitting Home

This past weekend I was reduced to tears and inspired Allison Tate's essay "The Mom Stays in the Picture." You can read it here.

Within my family, I am notorious for never wanting my picture taken.  I will balk, hide, or beg offer to take the photo-- anything to get out of actually being in a photo.   Every year, for our family Christmas card, I have to search high and low to find a photo with me in it to put on our card. Every year I'm tempted to let the fact that I wrote the Christmas newsletter lie alone as proof of my continued existence.

I think this article has changed that forever. Miss Po is always begging to have our picture taken together. She loves the iPhone, and the girl knows how to use it.  I enjoy improving my photos on Instagram, and sharing them with distance family and friends. But I never put up pictures with me in it.

Well, no longer. I'm going to start sharing.  Even if it means ignoring that icky feeling I have in my stomach at putting these less-than-flattering photos of myself up.  But I love my kids enough to want to leave them photos of me to look at when they are grown.

Because truth me told, I love and cherish all the photos I have of me with my parents as a child.  Especially with my Dad gone 21 years, I get how important this can be.

So here's my start. 

Paloma and I at Kelly Lake.

Paloma and I cuddling in the living room.
The Mister and I enjoying a child-free getaway this past July in Marquette, Michigan.

K-man and I on the train at Bay Beach.
Mr. Miles and Manmi.
Being silly.