Thursday, June 28, 2012

New Word Submission

While I'm pretty darn positive that Paloma is my daughter (I was there, after all), I'm also sure that she is gunning to be our dear Essie Why's verbal prodigy.

Tonight she came up with a new bit of terminology that I am hereby submitting to the, ahem:

Essie Why's Dictionary of Anatomically Incorrect Terms


Front Ass:    [fruhnt] [as]

noun 

1. a male's genitalia on the front part of his body.  As in:  "Paloma, why is that little boy who were you playing Tag with on the ground crying?"  Answer:  "He ran into a pole and hurt his front ass."

Origin:
6 year old English-Frozen Chamorro.  June, 2012, Green Bay, Wisconsin. 

Synonyms:
  Pea Finger

Antonyms:
Front Butt (feminine use only) 

         *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *  

 I will let you know Essie's decision as to submission as soon as I have it.  
-Sarah

Monday, June 25, 2012

Just Dance!

 Finally!  It's here!

I was SO unbelievably excited to find that the kids' dance studio's Finale Video was put on YouTube! 

This is a crazy-amazing group of talented kids!  Every year, BCFD hires Haley Mac to come out for a weekend and choreograph their production line number (referred to as "Finale," since it is the finale of all of the spring recitals.)

This year, Haley Mac completely outdid herself.  This dance is amazing.  So amazing, in fact, that I have NO idea how she is ever going to top it.  Rest assured, she will, but the creative talent there boggles my mind.

Atticus is the littlest boy in Finale this year.  He comes onstage during "Friday" at 1:51.  Then again at the end at 4:29, and he's front/center at the very end.

Hatfield's group wears the hats and knee-highs.  She comes on during Swizz Beat at 2:38, and again at the end at 4:29.

Every time I watch this, I get chills.  Especially the boys' team!  Amazing!  The come in at 3:35 and the spin at 3:48 is  . . . wow.

I'll stop and let the video speak for itself :)  I'm just SO proud of all of the kids and staff and hard work that went into the making of this.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fourteen

My baby girl turned 14 this past week.

14.

It is very hard for me to put my love and adoration for my girl into words without sounding cheesy or insincere.   So, I'm just going to jump into her birthday :)

For the past year and a half, Hatfield has taken to wearing mis-matched flip flops.  I believe it started after we saw Wicked, when she started wearing one green and one pink flip flop.  It has since evolved and given that she has about a zillion pairs of flip flops, she has a near infinite number of combinations.

(Side note:  it looks very cute and charming on my 14-year old daughter.  I, however, share the same shoe size as Hatfield, and I must confess that mismatched flip flops on a 37-year old Mom? Not very charming.)

So, what better than a MisMatched Flip Flop cake to start off her birthday?
 
Our girl may be a teenager who looks great in a cowgirl sunhat, but she still has enough of a kid side to want to hit Bay Beach Amusement Park on her birthday for some Scrambler, Tilt-a-Whirl, Scat and Zippin' Pippin' action.
 
Plus, at 14, she's past the "I'm too old to ride the kiddie train" and into the "I'm old enough to be riding the train with my little sis because I'm an awesome big sister" sort of cool.

 
(Although, as a mother, I LOVE the fact that she LOVES the Harry Potter '07 shirt that the Mister brought home for her from Universal Studios last week.)

 Hatfield is a wonderful daughter, great big sister and, for lack of more inventive vocabulary, a really neat person.

Hatfield is the type of girl who takes her papillon kayaking.

That is definitely something only done by a neat person :)


 I still can't believe that she is 14.  Where did the years go?

Back when my girl was a wee tot, the thought of having a teenager would leave me hyperventilating and panicked.

But here we are: 14.  2 more years until driving.  4 more until 18.  5 until college (Hatfield will turn 19 the summer she graduates high school.)

No hyperventilating here.

Instead, I'm excited.  I'm so excited to see how my girl is maturing and growing.  I'm excited by just how many opportunities she has before her.  She's an accomplished pianist, an amazing dancer, a solid athlete, a creative artist, an animal lover, and an aspiring author.
 

(Hatfield took this photo during last week's Strawberry Picking)

I'm proud of how many opportunities she is willing to take, even if they are scary at first.

This summer, we signed her up for U-15 soccer (girls, ages 12, 13 & 14.)  We arrive to the first practice to find out they have 27 girls and 1 coach, which meant that she'd be lucky if she could get on the field for even 40% of a game.

However, they asked the girls to consider bumping up to U-19 (girls, ages 15, 16, 17 & 18), because that team was short on players.

Hatfield went.  She was a bit worried at first, but we had a great talk about opportunity and how sometimes, we grow the most as people when we are willing to step outside of our comfort zone.

So she went for it. All the girls play high school soccer, which is way more aggressive than the middle school level, but she jumped right in.   And she's doing great.  She's had two goal attempts (both sailed over the net), but she's holding her own really well, and you'd never know she was the youngest on the team.

Well, you could probably figure it out if you realized that most of the girls drive themselves to the games, whereas she gets dropped off in Mom's (ad)Venture.

(Okay, that makes me hyperventilate a little bit.  But not too much. ;-)

Hatfield has been one of the absolute greatest joys of our lives.   If I could, I would happily spend these 14 years over again, just to experience her childhood all over again.

 
  (Hatfield and BCFD's Advanced Line Lyrical Performance.)

I LOVED this costume.  You can see a bit of the top in this photo.
The girls looked like woodland faeries floating across the stage.)

We love you, Hattie Lou!   We can't wait to see all the wonderful things life has in store for you!




Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summertime, and the livin' is . .

Triggered.

Triggered, and anything but easy.

Sigh.

Last week Wednesday was the last day of school for my Haitian Sensations. 

Keenan's okay with the last day of school (note:  he's probably not really okay with it, but with his inability to recognize feelings, or bury feelings, he gets through it- more on that and upcoming psych evals later.)

Miles is anything but okay.

The entire end of year wind-down and last day of school is a MASSIVE trigger for Miles.

Feelings of loss, abandonment, helplessness and being little wash over him.

His coping mechanisms:  become a complete control freak and try to micro-manage every single thing around him.   Which includes complete disobedience, complete disregard to safety, and lack of respect, which he knows will earn him blanket time, which he hates. 

But he does it because he knows the outcome of this loop, negative feedback be damned.

This willingness to make bad choices and suffer negative consequences as a means of control has always really, really stumped me.  I mean, I get it and I get why he does it.

Still, to understand something in theory and then see it play out, time and time again, in real life.  Wow. 

Especially when the child knows --and loves-- the outcome of good choices.

These behaviors begin popping up when the teacher starts abandoning the daily schedule at the end of the school year to make room for all the end of the year activities.  Math unit wrap-ups, a multitude of field trips, special game days.  All fun things, but for the trauma/RAD child, knowing that today is going to be different from yesterday and tomorrow is going to be different from today, and NONE of it resembles the past 4 months?!?

Trigger Nation.

For the most part, Miles was thriving in first grade.  The routine, expectations and consequence/reward systems were consistent.  He tested the waters, found the outcomes to never change, and he took the rewards and soared with them.

That even began to "spill over" at home.  We suddenly saw natural consequence that actually worked.

The natural consequences working is a HUGE thing for a trauma/RAD child.  HUGE.

But, as the school year wind-down intensified and that last day finally arrived, my little man just couldn't take it any more. 

And, as icing on the cake, a boy punched Miles, really hard, in his side during the last recess.

So now add feelings of anger, helplessness and victimization to the already growing list of out-of-whack feelings that were sparked by the last day of school.

Within 2 hours of coming home on the last day (which was a HALF day.  Seriously, could the school make it any less like a normal day? ;)  Miles had vandalized my car with three huge, deep, squiggly scratches.

He did not like having to be within Mom's eyesight after that, so by 8 am on the first day of summer, he managed to sneak the side garage door open, allowing Wanda to escape and run away.

Cue Four Distraught, Angry and Triggered-over-the-recent-death-of-Ernie Siblings, freaking out and tearing into Miles and his blatant disregard for Wanda's safety.

3 hours later, we found Wanda in a neighbor's overheated garage (the day was approaching 90.)  Dehydrated and scared, Wanda came crawling out on her belly. Hattie, sobbing, carried her back to our house.

Cue Miles' shame, remorse and anger over this siblings' reactions.

Cue MAJOR defiance, disobedience, and lack of safety behaviors.

Cue Mama's 5-day migraine.

Cue the Mister's ill-timed 5 day National Sales meeting in Orlando.

Cue the therapist ill-timed, week-long vacation.

Arrrgh.

So, where are we, now that we are nearly a week into Summer break?  Well, I've seen Miles able to pull through these big feeling, talk about them a bit, process them a bit and have fun for a while.  Which lasts maybe 2 hours, before he shuts down and goes back into the negative behavior cycles.

Today I'm trying to switch it up.  I am paying zero mind to all bad behaviors.  Zero.  I don't see them, don't address them, etc.   It is probably going to trigger him further, but I am hoping that it pushes him out of his current I-do-this-and-I-know-Mom-will-do-that cycle. 

I'm not sure what is better in the long run.

I scheduled a number of therapy/EMDR sessions for next week and the week after.

And I'm trying to figure out how-- in a family of 5 children, with crazy dance, soccer and baseball schedules-- I can place a bit more "routine" in it to help him feel safe and in control of his day.

We are already very consistent with morning wake-up routine and chore routine.  But between 9 am and 8 pm, our activity schedules vary each and every day.

I am KICKING myself-- hard-- for not signing him up for summer school all summer.  Last year summer school did not go well-- not at all-- because Miles has a hard time transitioning from new teacher to new teacher.  That triggers his "I don't like young adult females to be in charge of me" trauma issues from an unstable orphanage life with young female caregivers.  Which isn't a great thing to be triggered. 

But, at least it would have been consistency and scheduling stability for 6 weeks.

Live and learn.

So this is summertime life with PTSD/RAD.  It's not pretty.  And it's a lot of work to make it fun.

But I just want him to have fun.  And be a kid.

I feel so angry about all that happened to him in the 5 years before he lived here.

I feel so angry that those things stripped him of his ability to be a kid and enjoy life.

I feel angry with myself that I walk around, frustrated and thinking, "I just want to be able to enjoy you, son!  I just want to be able to have fun and enjoy ALL my kids!"

But, it's the hand we were dealt, and so what choice but to push on and hope that we can salvage summer and enjoy a bit of peace and stability as a whole.







Friday, June 08, 2012

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

I did something of which I regret deeply and feel deep shame. 

And now I am paying the price.

Earlier last month, I applied Weed & Feed to my backyard.

I did this out of sheer desperation, tinged with . . .I hate to say it. . . embarrassment.  The dandelions were overtaking everything.  EVERYTHING.  They were creeping up through the weed block and 5 inches of wood chip mulch surrounding our play yard.  Overpopulating my perennial gardens. 

They even had the nerve to show up, again and again, in my new planter boxes.

Realizing that I could NEVER get rid of them even half-way, and wanting to avoid using Round-Up all together, I bit the bullet, put on a baseball cap and dark sunglasses, and bought two bags of Weed & Feed at Home Despot.

I could justify it or try to lessen the severity of my actions by saying the in the six years we lived here, I never once applied a poisonous chemical onto my grass.

But that doesn't undo what I did.

For six happy years, I have lived in perfect harmony with my yard and all the creatures in it.  (Okay, I've had big issues with Opossums and Squirrels over the years.  But the Opossums and I have made peace.  I still hate the squirrels, but I've learned to plant my corn in areas that they cannot get to.)

I have a colony of cute little bunnies living under my deck.  In six years, they have nary munched a spinach leaf, chard stem or snap pea shoot.

The bunnies would frolic about my yard, happily munching on the natural grasses and clover that used to abound.

Used to.  Until I became an idiot and put a bunch of sh!t on my grass.

Now the clover is no longer abundant, and the sprigs I do have probably taste like chemicals.  So do you know where all those bunnies are munching?

Yep.  My gardens.

A pea pod shoot is nowhere to be found.  My chard has not grown longer than 3 inches.  Carrots?  What carrots?  Those 250 carrot seeds?

Now Bunny Poop.

In fact, as I'm typing right now, a sweet, tiny, super cute baby bunny (I mean, smaller than a kitten bunny) is hopping about my onions and peapods.  I'm pretty sure this bunny now permanently lives a happy, shaded life in my raspberry patch.

Earlier this week, Hatfield spotted this bunny out there, frantically running about, unable to find his escape route in the fence.

So, we took the fence down to help the poor bunny out.  The poor baby bunny that will then grow big and fat, coming back to terrorize my plants.

Kind of like the Godfather Part 2, only with a bunny and not Vito Andolini:   I will not kill the bunny, because someday the bunny will grow up and come back and kill me by eating my vegetables.

Cute bunnies are clearly my Achilles Heel.

The Mister, who grew up with a "Boil the Water, Woman While I Go Get Me My Musket," nearly died when he saw what Hattie and I did.

"Why ruin the fence I put up?" he muttered.  "It's not like the thing is going to starve to death.  It just trapped itself in a PETA garden."

Smile.

Earlier this week, we found a solution to our troubles, all for free, in the neighbor's garbage pile.




I'm not a big fan, but they work.  Next year, though, I will know better.


Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Where Everybody Knows Our Names


Every Tuesday night, I meet my girls at a cafe on Broadway for Knitty Night.

Truth be told, "Cafe" is probably too sophisticated of a term.  Broadway is the . . .grittier. . part of our little city's "downtown."  In reality, where we knit is in an old rectangular building, split right down the middle into two rooms.  The North half is a "Roadhouse" bar; the South Half is a restaurant with two couches plunked down next to the front window, which allow the owner to deem it a "Cafe."

But, as I think about it, I guess it is cafe-ish, as patrons are welcome to sit at their leisure and visit.

Or, in our case, knit.

We feel very welcome at Knitty Night.  While we don't rack up huge bar bills, we are quite low-maintenance and tip well.  

Plus, they've never had to escort us off the premises due to drunken disorderliness, which they probably can't say about most of their steady customers who have been coming in faithfully, weekly, for over two years.  

So, we are welcome customers.  

Additionally, we don't smell like a sewer. 

And, we have all of our teeth.

Wow, this list as to why they like us just keeps on growing, doesn't it?
 
(Start humming the Cheers theme now.)

Last night, as I plunked down on the couch, I noticed a pile of mismatched knitting needles on the coffee table.  

All treasures garnered by a devoted employee’s couch diving /cleaning late last week. 

They knew exactly whose knitting needles they were.  And they saved them for us.

Are you feeling the love?  I am.

My eyes lit up as I spotted it.

There it was.

My lost needle.

The lost needle, back in its rightful spot.  Please avert your eyes from the dreaded aqua aluminum monstrosity I had to use in the meantime.

“I saw that and knew right away that it was Sarah’s, because she knits washcloths on wooden size 8’s,” Essie commented.

This is LOVE and FRIENDSHIP, people, in one of its purest forms.   This group of dear ladies not only know my name, they know the type and size of needles I use to knit washcloths. 

It's the Knitter's Equivalent of a Blood-Bond, Rub Your Spit in Each Other's Wounds, Pinky-Swear BFF Friendship.

I’ve owned this particular of set of wooden size-8 needles for at least 18 years.  I knit ALL of my Sugar ‘n Cream cotton cloths on size 8 needles.  Nothing else.

I had been devastated to realize that I had lost it.   I had an inkling that it probably slipped between the cushions during a laughing-so-hard-I’m-crying, wine-filled knitting session.  

Really, I should restate:  I was devastated, but not soooo devastated that I was willing to go couch diving at our knitting joint.

*Shudder*

But I didn't have to.  Because I knit at a place where they know our names, and our knitting needles.  And Cheers ain't got nuthin' on that.


Monday, June 04, 2012

TEN

My first baby boy is 10 years old today.


Entering the Land of Double Digits is always a big deal.   I don't remember much about my birthdays growing up, but I remember when I was 10. 

I specifically requested to have "Terrific Ten" written on my birthday cake.  It was a sheet cake with a porcelain figurine of a girl with a cute 1950's blonde ponytail, red sweater and pedal pushers talking on the phone, twirling the cord.

Boy, does that date me.  Both the calling of capri's "Pedal Pushers" (because no one used the word capri's back then) and a phone with a cord.

My Atticus is the sweetest boy on the planet.  Go ahead and make gagging noises and roll your eyes-- I don't care.  I love this kid so much it hurts.

This is my boy who one day, when I walked down stairs, made up and dressed to the nines, he fell backwards onto the floor, put his hand over his heart, and struggled halfway up.  "You . . .are. . . so. . .beautiful," he stammered out, before dropping back to the floor, "you killed me."

I LOVE this kid.

From the moment he literally dropped into this world.  Literally. . . I had an epidural, and less than 40 minutes later, there he was.  After 2 pushes the doctor told me to stop because his cord was around his neck.  So I stopped. "No pushing!" he reiterated."  "I'm NOT!" I hollered back.

Then, plunk.  Right into his hands.  Out plopped Atticus, ready for the world.

He was born  with this huge mop of crazy, jet black hair that stuck straight up and out and everywhere.

He had a huge belly laugh, and some of my most intense memories involve looking down at his face while nursing, his crazy happy eyes shining at me, milk all over his chubby cheeks.  I'd smile and he'd belly laugh so hard he'd get the hiccups.

Love.

As always, our family celebrates birthdays with Birthday Cake for Breakfast.

I always make a from-scratch cake (seriously, by now you all know my from-scratch soapbox:  For the love of all things holy, make from-scratch cakes.  They are easy and delicious and generally 7 ingredients or less, all of which you probably have in your cupboards.  Boxed mixes are tasteless and full of scary-ass chemicals and should be BANNED.)

I suck at decorating, but I try and make a cake inspired by an interest of the child at that moment in time.

And you know what?  It doesn't suck that I am bad at decorating.

My first few cakes I felt ashamed and didn't want people to see them.  Especially when there are so many awesome cake decorators out there, and they all put their cakes on FB.  I felt silly putting my lop-sided, homemade cakes up there next to theirs.

But you know what I realized?  Kids don't care.  To a child, all cakes are MAGICAL.  They don't know if it looks like Mom made it or Martha Stewart's staff.  To them, it's their birthday, it's about them, it's special and wonderful.

This year, I made a Chinese Checkers Cake for Atticus.  The Checkers were made from gumballs, so the kids feel they doubly scored (cake for now! gum for later!)


 He has grown into such a neat kid during the first 10 years of his life.

Atticus is a pretty cerebral kid- he loves puzzles and games, facts and figures.  To him, history is SO alive.  He can envision lands and people and battles.  He can hear languages in his head and somehow he categorizes timelines and events naturally, simply.  It's pretty awesome.

I am so happy that we have chosen to homeschool him.  He's not a huge kid, and he has a gentle heart.  I worry that maybe he'd be picked on, or that he would chose to just go under the radar so as to not attract attention.  I'm glad that he's been home where he can grow and thrive and be a kid without worrying about anything.

And grow into his own he has.  This year he was moved up in dance and skipped an entire dance line.  He was invited to be in the Intensive Ballet program, which is a pretty cool deal.  He tried out for and made the Green Bay Youth Symphony.  He stepped out of his comfort zone and picked up a new summer sport this year-- baseball.  And while at first it was really apparent that his parents never taught him or played the game with him (shame on us, I know), he has worked so hard, living and breathing baseball, and he's improved tremendously. 



All with his happy-go-lucky smile.

Happy, Happy Birthday my boy.  I can't wait to see what the next 10 years brings you.






Sunday, June 03, 2012

Coming Up For Air

Wow, it's been a while.

A long while.

So long that I don't even recognize my blogger dashboard anymore-- what the heck?  Time for this old dog to learn some new tricks, I guess.

The past month and a half have been amongst the busiest I've had as a mother yet, but I've enjoyed it (mostly.)  I've composed so many posts in my head while out for a run or in the backyard gardens, only never to have found the time and motivation to get it onto the screen.

We were blessed with a crazy, early, warm (often HOT) Spring here, which I have basked in.  I have taken advantage of every glorious moment that I could steal for my gardens.  The vegetables are in, the flowers are blooming, the weeds are battled weekly(-ish).  My fingernails look a bit ishy and the bottoms of my feet are dirty every night, even when I wear socks and my gardening boots.

Big, Happy Sigh.

We made it through the 5 Dance Recitals in One Weekend thing and the Dance year has wrapped up (kinda sorta; it started again for Atticus last week.  The girls the week after next.)  The Spring Rummage Sale is done (Thank God, and this time, when I write I'm NEVER going to do a rummage sale again, I REALLY mean it.) Violin recitals- check.  Piano recital- check.  School concerts and school plays-  check.

3 kids in soccer, 4 in dance, 1 in baseball, 2 in violin and 1 in piano keep me hopping day to day, week to week.  I don't mind, though, because those are all such positive activities.  I'm all about the positive when I can get it.  Plus, here in the Frozen Tundra we only have so many months when we can play sports outside, so let's take advantage of it while we can.

And (and this is a totally selfish thought that I will admit only to you), I actually get to sit and knit while I cheer my kids on during said sports.

Did you catch that?

Sit.

and

Knit.

Both are things which rarely happen, outside of Knitty Night, during these Summer months.  So, the more sports that the little ones are in, the more Mama gets to sit outside in fabulous weather, knitting.

Cha-ching.

 The boys are finishing up school this week, and we are going through some MAJOR  It's-the-End-of-the-School-Year-and-I-Didn't-Approve-This-Change Wango Tango.  I don't know if I should be happy that the end is nearly here and we can finish up this particular dance card, or if I should be terrified of the It's-Now-Summer-and-I-Didn't-Approve-This-Being-Home-All-Day Wango Tango that will be stepped right into.

Guess that doesn't really matter, because it is what it is, and some things are unavoidable.

Some things you can't skip around.  Some things you just have to go through.

Which, with some things, like PTSD/RAD behaviors, going through it rather than around it, pretty much sucks.

Other things, like the bottle of wine the Mister is opening as I type, make me quite happy to go through it, rather than around it.

So, here's to the start of summer, and to the start of some regular blog posts.
Cheers!
Sarah