Friday, January 27, 2012

Memory Blanket

Last year I made the horrific discovery that the Mighty Miss Po had outgrown all of her 4T/5T footie jammies.

Outgrowing toddler footie jammies = she's not a baby anymore = a distraught Mama.

Unable to part with them, I piled up the pj's, which my mother spotted. "I have an idea," she said, and snagged the pile.

UPS just delivered the result of her brilliant idea:

A Baby Pajama Blanket.

I managed to stop crying long enough to take some pictures. How precious is this?!?!?!
She cut out and adorned a frog that graced the cover of a cuddly pink and green pair.
Sweet and girly adornments, including a little creature with a binky. Paloma was my Binky Baby, and carried a Yellow Binky Basket with her everywhere.
I will try to be a good mother and allow my daughter to cuddle with it, on the second and fourth Mondays of each month (I get it the rest of the days.)


Thank you, Mom, for a blanket that is beyond a treasure.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hijacked: Happy Birthday to My Gorgeous Wife!

This is Sarah's Mister, hijacking her blog because I know she won't want to give notice that today is her birthday.

So Happy, Happy Birthday to the most wonderful mother, amazing wife, and incredible person I know.

As many of you know, Sarah has a tradition of making everyone in our family a special, from-scratch birthday cake for their birthday. Not an easy set of shoes to fill for this guy, but the kids and I gave it our best this year.

What more fitting for my wife than a yarn cake? That blob of pink fondant is supposed to be a ball of yarn. Other possibilities that were suggested: brains, intestines and "unicorn poop."


Yarn.

My wife has many amazing qualities that make her very special to us. A while back, I heard this song and it's as if my wife herself wrote it. All those things in the song are important to her.


Happy Birthday to my lovely wife. We are so very lucky to have you.
Love,
Your Ardent Admirer

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gotcha!

Paloma often swipes my iPod Touch, makes videos and sends them to Hatfield. I never know just what I'm going to find when I sync.

For example:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Yesterday:

* The boys had a great second day of school. Score! We had a highly productive day of homeschool (two in a row!). Score!

* My dishwasher/kitchen sink became MAJORLY backed up. No score! Gag! My dear husband drove down from the U.P. to unclog the entire production, and then drove back up north for work. Before he left he held up his trusty plumbing snake tool which has saved us hundreds of dollars in unnecessary plumber fees, announcing to our daughters: If the guy you wanna marry can't use one of these, you may want to rethink your decision.

To which Hatfield responded: Why does he need to use one if I learned how to use it from watching you?

Thatta girl, Hattie Lou. Thattagirl. Man, I love that kid more and more every day.

* I tore apart my homeschool shelves and storage area in the basement, looking for the next math text/workbook for Atticus (we rotate between Teaching Textbooks and Math-U-See, so that each reinforces the other, creating an absolutely stellar math curriculum). I knew I had the set, as Hatfield had completed it several years back. But, it wasn't in my Math-U-See container.

An hour and a half later, I realized that my little math nerd (said lovingly) had already finished that set some 6 months back, and I had placed it in Paloma's bin. He finished it a grade and a half earlier than I thought he would, but it hadn't occurred to me that he was already set to begin the next level.

Oops. Why is it that as my kids get smarter, my brain get dumber?

* I made oatmeal/blueberry pancakes for dinner, along with these hash browns. Holy Hash Brown Heaven, Batman! They were soooooooo good. I didn't use that much oil, and I used olive oil instead (but not too high, because the scorch temp for olive oil is a lot lower than that of veg oil). Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

* The kids' dance costumes have been trickling in all week. I LOVE costume week, and since my sieve-like brain cannot remember what any of the costumes we ordered actually looked like (hey, it was way back in October, and we ordered a million of them), it's like Costume Christmas all over again.

Miss Hatfield is now nearly as tall as me, so guess what? I can now try on her gorgeous ballet costumes that I have been stealthily drooling over the for the past years.

So I did!

And you know what?

Somethings are better left to one's own imagination.

Things like ballerina costumes.

Because this is what I had pictured in my head:

which I then somehow had to resolve with this reality:


(*shudder*)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When Home Education and Attachment Collide,

sometimes, the results are less than ideal.

What began as a honeymoon some 7 months ago ends today, with my Haitian Sensations attending public school, starting tomorrow.

For the past few months, the uphill task of educating my trauma twins has been icing up.

It started with little things, like leaving out letters in their names, or insisting that they never learned that 4 comes after 3.

For a long time, I'd say, "Uh oh, looks like Keenan is too tired to remember how to spell his name. Better go up and take a breather on your bed until you feel stronger and can remember how many "e's" you have."

At first, he'd be up there, pitching a fit for 2 or 3 hours. Then, he'd stomp up and sit on his bed sullenly for 60 minutes. It slowly dropped down to 30 minutes, then 10. For a while, he'd go up, plunk his butt down, hop back up and have it fixed within 30 seconds.

But then, suddenly, it escalated into a flat-out refusal to do work. Each day became: "Good. I don't want to do this anyways. I'd rather sit on my bed/do a chore/etc."

He'd sit there smugly, knowing there's nothing I could do about it.

Miles wasn't much different. He would do math fine for the first few problems, but then before we got to the end of the page, he'd freeze up. Circular discussions always ensued. "Why aren't you doing your math nicely?"

"Because I don't like math and I want to play."
"How many problems do you have to go until you play?"
"4."
"So why don't you do you math nicely and then play?"
"Because I'm mad I have to do math."

Over and over. Rinse and repeat. Always coming back to: "I don't want to do math/reading/school because I'm angry that I have to do math/reading school."

Insert second smug-faced child into bedroom.

The counselor would tell me, "He's smug like that because in his mind he just won."

Not sh#t, sherlock.

But the bottom line is that this is a 7-year old child who does not know what he wants or what he needs to survive in this world. If he thinks that sitting on his bed, bored and learning nothing is winning, he's clearly losing, and it's my job as Mama to intervene.

What can I do?

I can't force him to do his math worksheets.
I can't force a child to learn to read.

I can, and have, incentivized, candy-vized, stickers, cartwheels, extra boob tube time, extra outside time, all for nada. I have issued chores, lectured, allowed children to be really, really bored.

I'm amazed by the people who can't figure out just why I can't make them do their work. Y'all think a little spanking's gonna work? I could promise you that I if I beat the kid until they were black and blue and in the hospital, and he'd just come home tomorrow and not do his math.

These boys of mine spent 4 years in a Haitian orphanage-- you really think a sticker, sucker, spanking or grounding is really gonna make them do math for me? Any amount of boredom, any chore, any sort of unhappy feeling here in America is a million times better than what they had in Haiti.

Seriously.

So that's half of it. The other half is that I can't spend over half my day, day in, day out, trying to constantly disengage from the boys' games with their schoolwork. It's not fair to any of the other kids who are working hard each day to try and figure out a tough math problem when Keenan's upstairs kicking his feet against the wall, screaming, "Ow! My Feet!"

I can't use up all of our energy and oxygen on trying to keep a "normal" feeling in the house for those kids maintaining.

I've done it before and I will not do it again. I will give the greatest energy/oxygen to those who are "using their powers for good" or "playing in the boundaries" or what have you.

I will give everything I can to helping pull my boys through, but I will not let their crazy come at the expense of their sibling's education.

I know that sounds harsh, or mean, or unfair, but it's the way it is. I have tried every trick, plot, therapeutic parenting technique in the book, but I will not let their issues run the show in our house.

I do not tie my own pride or value into this. I am a person, and I am a mother. I try my best with all my kids.

But, I will not breath oxygen into the fire of their manipulative games.

I will do everything I can to equip them with everything they need: I employ a great therapist, I constantly read and try to learn more and do better, and I am committed to their education and recognize that if they aren't learning from me, then I best send them to someone from whom they can learn.

I have one child who is 30 reading lessons behind, and that's padding it with the "trauma factor," alotting 2 days/lesson instead of expecting a completed lesson each day. I have two who move at a snail's pace through math, all in the name of "it makes me mad to have to do math." Ugh.

I homeschool for a multitude of reasons, but the first and foremost is a serious education.

So, off they go.

I have worked far too hard---my boys have worked far too hard-- on attachment and building a family love and understanding to let homeschool undermine it.

I was really hoping that teaching them to read would come across as a loving, bonding activity as it had with the other children.

Yet, it hasn't. And that's okay.

My role with them is Mommy who Loves them and Cares for them.

Not Mommy who Educates them.

Does it make me sad? Yes. I've grieved over this. It seems so unfair that Trauma can take this away from us.

But, I'm okay with it, too. I love those boys, and I'll meet them where they're at.

And starting tomorrow, that will be by the monkey bars every day at 2:55 p.m.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

One thing I wish I would have done more of is record the funny conversations I've had with my kids over the years. So that's what I'm attempting to do now.

It's early evening, and the Mister has dropped Hatfield off at bowling, and is now bringing out his inner child at Toys R Us with the Boy Squad.

Paloma stayed home to help Mommy bake Daddy's birthday cake and wrap presents for tomorrow.

"I love to tape Mom. It's like I took a class in taping before I was born."

At one point, Paloma nearly slipped off the table bench when it slid away from the table while she was standing on it. I gasped a bit and said, "Careful, babe." To which she responded: "Don't worry, Mom. I'm trained in this."

I don't recall ever taking Paloma to a training class, but then again, I often confuse my children's names, and really, most of them look nothing alike.

While helping me, she whispered on the DL: "You don't have to pay me for wrapping, Mom."

And just now, while writing this out, she came in to let me know that when we were in the baking aisle at the grocery store, and we were by the birthday cake candles, in addition to the ones that are in the shapes of 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., "I am DEFINITELY POSITIVELY sure that there was one that was 39 in glittery numbers, Mom."

Friday, January 06, 2012

Today is:

Today is January 6th

It is 45 degrees F outside.

I just brought Wanda in from a looooooonnnnngggg walk.

She's one happy dog.

Now I am working outside.

I am not shoveling.

I am working in the dirt. Not snow. Dirt. Cutting back vegetation that I didn't cut back in October due to my rotator cuff wackiness.

My boys are playing tackle football.

My girls are a Roller Skating Taxi Service for Unicorns (love that Hatfield creates these games for Hatfield.)

I feel like I died and gone to Heaven.

Did I mention that it's January 6th? And I'm in Wisconsin?

Monday, January 02, 2012

First FO of 2012

We finished up 2011 in the mid-30's with barely any snow (under 1 inch, so truly, barely any.) Our New Year's Eve was spent dancing with the kids, taking breaks to cool-off on the front porch, in our shirt sleeves.

All I could think was: This is AWESOME! I am so gonna make it this winter! Because 2011 is over and winter hasn't even started because it's still warm outside!!

2012 has arrived and do you know what that means?

Only 3.5 months of winter left, baby.

I can SO DO 3.5 months of winter blindfolded with my hands tied behind my back.

Tonight the temps are dipping to the frigid range, but I can still see all my garden beds and the the fall leaves blanketing the soil on each, promising me goodness in just a few months' time.

I can handle a few months to snuggle in each cold evening, with a cat on my lap and knitting in my hands. Christmas knitting is finished (Hallejulah!). And I've dusted off the Jalapeno Crunchers' Dust that the Mister sprinkled all over my log cabin blanket while en route to Florida (the man did not stop eating once on the entire drive home. Not. Once. Nearly drove me batty.)

The blanket has been On The Sticks since Winter 2010/2011, and I think it's about time to finish this.

Speaking of finishing, I have my first FO (that's Finished Object, Gutterminds) of 2012. And on New Year's Day 2012, no less.

Seriously, some awesome yarn company somewhere should send me some kind of prize or award, just like those mom's who have the first baby on New Year's Day get free diapers and stuff.

This bad boy, knit from a Woolstock kit which I bought at Stitches, glows in the dark (oooooooo...)
This is actually Hat 2 of 3, as I promised all 3 of my sons some Glow-in-the-Dark Knitty Awesomeness.
Bewaricus the Piraticus Atticus!!
Coffee-induced-bulletproofness strikes yet again (because, seriously, not only knitting 3 of the same hat, but having to listen to small child whine, when is my hat gonna be ready? while knitting? WTF, indeed!)

Thankfully, it's a fun thing to knit, so as far as some of the more stupid decisions I've made after 3 cups 0' hyperactive early morning goodness, this one is fairly innocuous.

Or so I hope.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Trading Up to Balls of Steel

While 2011 was one of the more 'difficult' years of my life, it was also one of the best in terms of my personal growth/development and improvement.

When I review the year, I feel pretty good. There was a lot this year that I went through that was un-bloggable, which is why the frequency of postings took a huge hit. But, I learned that wading through sh*t doesn't always leave you smelling like a cesspool.

While it might have taken me 36 years to get to this point, the point is, I'm here now. Here's some of what 2012 brought me:

* After two years of sweeping an emotionally devastating and toxic situation under the rug, I traded my cojones up to a Steel Pair, rolled up my sleeves, and slogged through it (and I have the therapy bills to prove it, lol.)

And you know what? Despite I was pretty sure that it would at times, my head did not fall off and roll across the floor. In fact, I'd say my head has never been screwed on tighter. Pretty cool.

* I garnered the strength to set some Boundaries for Mental/Emotional Health in my life and relationships. Knowing that there would be backlash, but not knowing just how much backlash there would be, but still establishing them anyways, was scary. Really, really scary.

But I did it. I knew that I had to, no matter the outcome (because the outcome that mattered most was my health), and I did it.

Pride is not always healthy, but in this case it is. I am really, really proud of myself.

* I surrounded myself with a group of amazing women and friends who gave me the strength and encouragement I needed when I wasn't quite certain I could power through on my own. Everyone in this world should have such a fierce, loving group of people to hold up the corners of one's safety net. I am beyond blessed.

* I learned to deal with passive aggressive people. Because suddenly this year, it seemed like they were popping up left and right. I learned to not care or become unnerved. And conversely, I learned to not allow people to force their passive aggressive propaganda down my throat. Because I found that most people who excel at the passive aggressive art do so because they are not used to people saying, "No, that's not how it went/is/will go at all." So, if someone was going to drag me through the mud with some bullcwap, I wasn't going to sit by and demurely take it.

I wasn't rude, or aggressive, but I spoke up for myself. And it felt good.

* Not once, but Twice, I went into full-immersion situations on the turf of groups of people where I am unliked/looked down upon/villified, and twice I came out with my integrity intact, my head held high, and my high road well-traveled upon. I don't like using the word "revenge," but living well and acting well is a great way to deal with toxic people.

* I began respecting myself again. I began liking myself again.

So, despite the hardships, I'm totally okay with how 2011 went down in the books. This morning while drinking my cup of coffee, I got out a polishing cloth and shined up my pretty new balls as part of my brand-new 2012 Morning Routine.

And 2012 can bring it; my shiny balls and myself are ready.