Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Family Tree Project

To start, school is going okay thus far. The kid is finishing up week 3 and things are okay, not great, but a hell of a lot better than last year. We're working on it and I'll take it for now.

I attended the parents' night last week and we got an assignment I've been dreading. The kid is to make a family tree. There are a couple of reasons why I haven't been looking forward to this.

The first - and really biggest - is I just don't understand the reason for it. Be assured I've emailed the teacher and am awaiting her response to answer this question. I'm hoping it will help give us some direction to take. She's a veteran teacher, so I'm certain the kid isn't the first kid she's had with adoption, or another "non-traditional" family dynamics/compositions. Because the 2nd reason I'm not loving this is that I'm uncertain how to proceed.

First, I just don't get the reasons for this whole thing. I mean, why??? What do children learn from this project. A friend suggested that it is about helping children learn about their own placement in a family, which can be a building block to understanding the structure of society as a whole. That makes sense. However, I still don't think this is an appropriate assignment; this could be taught in a different way.

Families look so different and many won't fit into the traditional "family tree model". There are an infinite ways for families to be composed in addition to the biological mom/dad/2.5 kids approach. There are blended families with step-parents/kids. There are single parent families where the other parent may or may not be known to the child. There are grandparents or other relatives raising children. There are children in foster care or residential facilities. There are children who may or may not know who their biological fathers or mothers are - due to adoption, being conceived as a result of rape, being conceived with donor eggs and/or sperm, or a myriad of other reasons.

Now, because the boys' adoptions are open, and we've had them since birth, we have some of the biological family history. However, it's quite limited, particularly for the kid. So this further complicates matters (if he does want to include his birth family, that is - which I will very much encourage him to do, but, in the end, it's up to him).

I've seen suggestions of using a roots approach (i.e. putting the birth family as the roots and the adoptive family as the branches). But I really - I mean, really - dislike this idea. To me, when I think of roots, I think of something that is hidden under the ground and not seen.While they're vitally important to the tree, I'm not okay with this being where the kid's birth families are put.

Additionally, to me, roots seem like referencing the past. And the boys' birth families are not just a part of their past. They are a part of their present, and hopefully a part of their future.

I do like the idea of using either hearts, leaves, or hands (as leaves) on a tree (no roots of course). Then the kid can write the names of family members and other important people he wants to include. I also like the idea of a big puzzle, with the names of different important people/family members on each piece.

I think what I need is to have some ideas, a few suggestions for the kid on a starting point. Where he decides to go with this is obviously up to him. But I need to get comfortable with it before I can even present it to him. Because the last thing I want is for HIM to be uncomfortable with it.

You have any experience or ideas about this project? I'd love, LOVE to hear (well, you know, read) them!

Today's Lesson: First grade is when shit gets hard, y'all. Man. Or maybe it's that it continues to be hard, just in a different way. Okay, re-framed lesson of the day - parenting is hard.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Slaves and Kettlecorn

We recently headed downtown for a Saturday morning at our local Farmer's Market. It's right in the middle of our downtown and I love it. So do the boys. Hubby loves the kettle corn. He tolerates the rest of it for us. Which I appreciate.
This particular day hubby had his mandatory bag of kettle corn. It was particularly crowded, probably because the weather was absolutely perfect. Hubby, not being at all a fan of crowds, and only tolerating the FM overall, decided to have a seat and munch on the kettle corn with the kid while baby E and I finished up our shopping and general wanderings.
Baby E and I went off to enjoy the bounty while hubby and the kid snacked away. Hubby then happened to notice this sign behind them. If you're local, you probably know the history of this particular area of town. And I did, too, but I'd never really thought about it too much. Til hubby pointed it out to me, and the irony of the spot they'd chosen for their snack.
The sign says:
Slave Auction Block
African Americans were sold as slaves at this Auction Block on the public square in the 19th century. [Our city] was the center of slave trading in [our state] by the late 1840's and serviced as a market for selling slaves farther south. Thousands of slaves were sold at [this location], including children who were separated from their parents.
Less than 200 years ago, not only would my family have been impossible - illegal! - my children could have been sold. This reality smacked me in the face and left me without words for several minutes (and, lets be honest, that's quite a feat).
I still haven't really processed it completely. Because every time I start to think about it, and specifically when I start to think about the day when my sons have this same realization, I am overwhelmed with sadness, anger, disbelief, and indecision. I have no idea how to talk to them about it. And then I am grateful that I don't have to. Yet.
Today's Lesson: Sometimes we all seek solace and safety in procrastination. And just sometimes that's okay.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Biker Boys

My biker boys are hardcore. Always helmeted. The big one padded up, too. Cruisin' the park with speed in mind.

Flirtin' with the girls. Flashin' smiles and yellin' "hi! hi! HI!!!!!!". Coming to a complete standstill to watch people go by. Holding up traffic. Giggling and grinning nonstop.
And that's how we roll. Literally.
Today's Lesson: Bikes are fun. I may just have to get me a bike.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Cubicle Chronicles: Chapter Two

Subtitled: More things my ears were assaulted with while at work.

If you'd like some background on the Cubicle Chronicles, see this post.

Lady 1: Girl, you is buyin' my lunch tomorrow for dealin' with this mess.
Lady (and, I mean seriously, I use that term so very loosely) 2: A'ight. I'll take ya to the titty bar. Except the one where we can see pensises. 'Cause who wants to look at titties when you eatin' lunch? (No. Words.)

I think you need to shut the hell up before I punch you in your face through the phone. (Now, I am hoping beyond all hope that this was not to a patient. Because, if it was, it goes way past funny to just that-woman-has-got-to-be-fired status.)

This day and age, I think they oughtta just put antidepressants in the water. Because clearly everybody needs them nowadays. I mean, just look at all of us. (Well, if the employees here are your litimus test, I can see how you'd come to this conclusion...)

Man 1: Gonorrhea? Yeah I've had that before. Man 2: Yeah, it's hard to treat, isn't it? Man 1: Yeah, but trich is even harder. You gotta use Fl.agyl. I got this one wrong on the test. (And it was at this point that I put my bugged out eyes back in t heir sockets and realized they were students who were talking about diagnosing and treating STD's, not having them themselves. Good one on me.)

I have had two, yes two, huge anus-es since I've been here. And, yes, I apparently did just say that out loud. (And, um, welllllll, I admit that I have to take credit for this one. What can I say? I was talking about patients. But still.)

Hello STitches. You know, 'cause you can't say "hello      B!tches" when you're at work. (Clearly. Because we have high standards and boundaries here.)

Also, every time I go to the location where the majority of this banter occurs, a major allergy attack happens. I mean, really, even my sinuses are offended by that place.

Today's Lesson: Just a thought, but perhaps at work, on the phone, in your cubicle, isn't the proper place to have a fight with your "undersexed, al-co-hoe-lic, don't wanna never shower" ex husband.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dear Toothfairy,

The kid had to write a letter to that tooth fairy. He lost another tooth last week (and is kind of starting to look funny because most of the new ones haven't made lots of progress in growing in yet).
The reason for the letter is because of where he lost it. He was at gymnastics class, doing what he does there (you know, nonstop movement). He jumped in to one of the pits, and came out with one less tooth. Now, me, well, I'm totally grossed out by this. I mean, his tooth is down there in that pit. It will never be found. And it makes me wonder what else is down there in that pit. Seriously, just ew.
Anyway, back to the kid. He was really concerned that the tooth fairy, you know since she's rather unreliable at our house anyway, would either not realize she's supposed to come to our house, since there was no actual tooth in the pillow, or wouldn't believe him that he'd lost it. We assured him she would know, and would fish that tooth out of the pit.
But apparently he still needed to make SURE. So he wrote this note for her. He wrote and spelled the whole thing himself. The picture is  by far my favorite part. It cracks me up. Mostly because that is just about what his mouth looks like right now.
Today's Lesson: It's funny the things that make our kids worried and stressed. Like the tooth fairy not delivering.

Monday, August 20, 2012

In the last 30 Hours...

I have:
  • Made and frozen 12 breakfast sandwiches (egg, cheese, bacon, English muffins)
  • Made and frozen 2.5doz high protein cookies for breakfast/snacks
  • Made (and yet to be frozen) 1.5doz muffin-size quiches
  • Made and frozen 2doz muffin-size potato/egg casserole things
  • Made and frozen 12 ham and cheese sandwiches
  • Canned 11 quarts of tomatoes (with my mama's help/supervision)
  • Done countless dishes - at least 4 dishwasher loads and who knows how many by hand
  • (In addition to all the other normal weekend cleaning, etc...)
Tomatoes, in the wine cooler. Our priorities are obvious.

Dude, I am tired. And I'm not going anywhere near the kitchen tomorrow. Hopefully.

Today's Lesson: Sometimes, in an effort to "prove" that your time on Pinterest is not in fact wasted time, you will decide to get all organized and crap. And make enough food to feed your family for a month (at least for breakfast). It may seem like a good idea. But, damn, will it wear you out. Nap accordingly.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


This may be the longest I've gone without posting. No particular reason. I guess we've been busy, and I haven't really had much to say. But, here are a few tidbits of randomness...
  • The kid started 1st grade yesterday. Day went fine. No meltdowns, no major love expressed either. Seems good overall.
  • I didn't cry when he started yesterday either. That also seems good.
  • I did take the day off work to be there when he got home. That was definitely good.
  • I'm still quite worried about how this year at school will go. I think I have PTSD from last year. Kidding. Mostly. Sort of.
  • Baby E continues to wear his unner-wears. He seems to do better (accident-wise) in the mornings than afternoons. That may be related to me watching him more closely then. Or not. Who knows. I'm still not overly concerned about or focusing on it.
  • I have a post brewing in my head about how our approach to potty training is a perfect example of what vastly different parents hubby and I are now as compared to when the kid was baby E's age.
  • I ate cold pizza for breakfast this morning. It was good. Now I have nothing for lunch, though, which is, you know, not good. Perhaps bad planning on my part.
  • I need a new cell phone. It likes to turn itself off when I send text messages. So I'm never quite sure whether the message went or not. In other words, if you get multiple texts from me, it's probably because my phone and I are not getting along.
  • My friend JE suggested on her blog that we need to come up with a new name for baby E to use in blogland. You know, since he's nearly 2 and all. It seems a valid point. However, he's recently started referring to himself as "baby", instead of "me" or his name. So we'll see.
  • Which reminds me that I seriously need to get to work on his party planning stuff.
  • I also have a 2nd instillation of the Cubicle Chronicles in the works. You're welcome, in advance.
  • Some days I have more patience for stupid. Today is not one of those days.
  • Going back to school leads to sleep deprivation for all of us. The kid, who has just finally started to sleep later than 6, now needs to be up 6:15ish. Baby E, who will happily sleep til 8, needs to be up by 7 (at the latest!). And I get at least an hour less sleep. Sigh. This may be related to the above bullet.

Today's Lesson: it's unfair to get pissed off at people for being who they are. The anger and disappointment you hold hurts mostly you. You do not have the power to change the essence of who someone else is. If who someone else is isn't acceptable to you, you have two choices: walk away and be done with them, or suck it up and accept them for who they are. That's it. Sometimes I need this reminder.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Potty training the kid, well, to say it was not fun is an understatement. We started right after he turned 2. And didn't finish til, hell, I don't know when. At least a year later. At least.

So, when people would talk about potty training with baby E, I completely dismissed it. We'd obviously started too early with the kid; he wasn't ready. And because of that, well, it was horrifically stressful. For all of us. I had no intention of repeating that crap (literally and figuratively speaking). Frankly, I preferred to put it off as long as possible. Mostly because of how stressful it had been before. But also because, lets face it, his cloth diapers are really cute.

But baby E is a completely different child than the kid. And, it would seem, he's quite interested in peeing in the toilet. We've been sitting him on it at least 1-2x a day for several months. Nothing's ever come of it, until Saturday. When he actually peed in the toilet. I, of course, was at work and missed it. But hubby made a big deal of it and baby E actually got to flush the toilet. Something he's aspired to for a long time now. And that toilet flushing seems to be a good motivator for him.

So, Sunday, since I was finally home and not working, I pulled out the tiniest little unner-wuars (read: underwear) you've ever see and stuck them on him. Now, I must take a moment to express how adorable those tiny little underwear are. And, seriously, they're tiny. And yet they are huge on him. But they do at least stay up. And he thinks they're quite the thing.

To date, we've had no, that's right, NO pee pee accidents. We have had 2 poop accidents, but they've been hardly anything at all. He seems so young to me to be potty training. But, what I learned from our experience with the kid, is that the most important part of potty training is following the child's lead and doing it when he's ready. And that is what baby E seems to be telling us.

Now, I realize he may decide tomorrow he wants no part of his cute briefs. Or simply start pissing all over my house. And that's completely fine (well, the former is; the latter, not so much). Because, really, I'm kind of missing his big ole cloth diapered booty. I wouldn't mind to stick him back in them (he's still in them at night and nap time, though he's been dry after naps lately). So, we're just going to play this one by ear. And try not to get all stressed about it.  We'll see what happens...

That reminds me, I need to find some more teeny tiny briefs. 3 pairs ain't gonna cut it.

Today's Lesson: It's funny the things that sometime leave us with such mixed emotions. Who'd have thought that my baby coming out of diapers would be something I'd feel sad about.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Power of Words

I see this and it makes me ashamed of some of the things that I have said to my kid. Things I've said in the heat of intense frustration, anger. Not that I've ever said anything abusive to either of my boys. But I absolutely have said things that I wouldn't want them to say to anyone else. And particularly things I absolutely wouldn't want them to ever say to themselves.

I remember the exact moment when I decided I was a lousy speller and always would be. It's the one and only time I ever remember my father doing any kind of school work with me. I was maybe 7. It was a word find, and I was struggling (for whatever reason - probably because it was dinner time and/or I simply found it boring). He said, out of frustration by my inattention, "are you so stupid that you can't even do something as simple as this??!!". And instantly I shut down. And I knew there was something wrong with me, that I couldn't accomplish this obviously easy task.

In 6th grade I got an F in Spelling. It's the only F I've ever gotten. To this day the tape that plays in my head, and promptly comes out my mouth whenever anyone asks how something is spelled, is "I can't spell".  It's an immediate response. And even though I can rationally explain to myself that I am indeed capable of spelling, this belief, well, it persists.

This saying, to me, says it all. I'm not saying I don't struggle with this, because heaven knows I do. Which, really, is why I posted it. I need this reminder. I need to have this reminder play through my head before I react in frustration and say something I shouldn't to my children. I need to have this reminder even in the moments I'm not frustrated. I need to be reminded that what I say does matter to them. Even when I think they aren't listening. They are listening.

Today's Lesson:
The things we say stick. Particularly when they're said by someone who is important in our lives. Someone we love. Someone we trust. What we say matters. What we say becomes the tape that plays. It becomes the inner voice our children hear. All. The. Time.

And the voice I want my children to hear is one that says "I am loved. I am loving. I am capable. I am compassionate. I know how to make good decisions. I am trustworthy. I am intelligent. I am good.". Because all of those things are so very true.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Great American Backyard Campout

Last month was the Great American Backyard Campout. And, yes, I'm just now getting around to posting about it. We invited some friends and family over to celebrate. So my mom took some pictures. And I, of course, stole them off FB to share with you. It's apparently what I do now, steal pictures from my mom, I mean.

There were 10 kids - ranging in age from 10y down to about 18mon - and about 14 adults, though not all of those people spent the night (there were only 2 families that pitched tents). Here are some of the highlights.

The kids organized their own baseball game. I can't actually tell you how much I love this. I mean, the ball and bat were there, and the kids just took it upon themselves to play. My BIL stepped in and played with them for awhile, but most of the game was just the kids.

There were, of course, s'mores. I mean, what would camping be without s'mores? And the kid, of course, got them all over his face. Because, I mean, who would he be if he didn't get them all over himself?

Then the adults who didn't have kids attached left and we set up a kid movie.

And they loved it.

Today's Lesson: We should have backyard campouts more often. Even in suburbia, they are lots of fun. Especially if the momma gets to sleep in the house in her bed. You know, 'cause the baby sleeps better inside, so - really - it's better for everyone that way.

Friday, August 3, 2012

I love...

I love...

how baby E sometimes says "tate ew, milp-mease" (thank you, milk please) when he's done nursing.
that my mama lives less than a mile away from me.
how hubby can make the boys belly laugh with just a look.
when my house is clean and the laundry is all put away.
that my friends love me even when I go to bed at 8pm while we're camping.
how insightful my kid is.
the smell of fresh sheets when I climb in bed.
our awesome backyard.

Today's Lesson: Sometimes it is important to remind ourselves what we're grateful for. And even though you should never end a sentence with a preposition, sometimes there is just better other option.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Camping, and Boating, and Boys, Oh my!

(Subtitled: Another post in which I steal pictures from my mom's FB page and use them to write a blog post because I'm too lazy to download my own pictures on to my laptop, much less my blog, although now my laptop is all jacked up which seems like a good excuse for why I'm stealing my mom's pictures. Again.)

Hubby, boys, my mom and I went camping this past weekend and had a ball. My FIL let us borrow his boat, and some friends came down for awhile, too, both of which made it even more fun! Here are a few photographic highlights.

Baby E was all about driving the boat. As in he had a meltdown when it was no longer his turn. And, no, we didn't let him drive  by himself because, you know, the steering wheel is higher than his head. And he's not even 2.

The kid just likes to drive fast. Like, the faster the better. This doesn't surprise me about my boy in the least.

But mostly, he loves to swim.

This looks like it should have hurt, right?! I guess the life jacket covered up enough that it didn't. Because he did it several more times, laughing hysterically the whole time.

E wasn't really so sure about the lake. He kept trying to stand on my legs when his little toes felt them. He did like a game we dubbed "Fish", where we would push him in the water from one of us to the other. This became apparent due to the enormous grin on his face while he was floating between people. I tried not to let all the lake water that was going in to his mouth because of that goofy grin freak me out too much.

Boys enjoying fire. Seriously, the love of fire seems to be ingrained in the Y chromosome.

Um, yeah. He likes beer. Beer drinkers beware. He will steal your bottle if you leave it unattended. This one, fortunately, was empty.

Shew, camping, boating, swimming, a crazy schedule, no sleep (I think we may have to resort to giving baby E the melatonin when we go camping), and hot weather wear a toddler out. Throw in some serious sunburn and a thousand mosquito bites, and you've got a worn out momma, too.

Life is good.

Today's Lesson: There is nothing better than tons of outside time, running, jumping, swimming, digging, climbing, sweating, and laughing to wear a family out. In the best possible way.