Thursday, November 3, 2016

Happy Halloween!

We had so much fun Trick-or-Treating the other night! It didn't feel like October at all, the weather was balmy. In fact, Michaela was wearing a Winnie the Pooh onesie and was complaining that she was about to die and had on a tank top underneath so her costume was unzipped to her waist and hanging off of her shoulders. Jake was whiny, complaining that his legs hurt and he wanted to go home. And Joey was upset because his bucket wasn't full, he wanted to keep going door to door all night long. I guess it really wasn't all that fun. The kids were cute though and got a lot of candy...that they went home and ate...and then complained about being sick. Joey was even hollering at Ed to come and help him from the bathroom, "Daddy, STICKY SPLAT!" I looked at Ed, confused. I had never heard this term before the other night. Apparently it is Joey-speak for diarrhea. Yummy.

After we got home, the kids handed out some candy. A little. We had about 5 groups of kids come by. It was really sort of depressing. The whole night really kinda sucked to be honest. I got on Facebook and saw posts from friends from my hometown who had kids in costumes, actually smiling! Trick-or-Treaters were lined up all down the sidewalk. *Sigh*

October has historically been a really tough month for me. Ever since Ed and I left Kansas. Maybe it even started that year. You know October is the month that it actually starts to FEEL like football season (sometimes) and then I start to miss the games. I miss the South vs. Central rivalry that my grandparents used to take me to, along with every other high school football game throughout the season. Every Friday night we would take the blankets and a thermos of hot chocolate to the stadium downtown... Then there's the World Series. I've never really liked to watch full baseball games but I sure loved eating ice cream and popcorn in Grandma and Grandpa's basement while the games were on. I miss the K-State football games, the occasional Chiefs game I used to go to, the Royals games, and even just sitting in a restaurant or bar on Sunday afternoon with like-minded fans. October makes me miss home.

This Halloween was another reminder that I'm not in Kansas anymore. Just like in recent years past, I wanted to go home. But then I have to think about what home has to offer...or not. The really big deterrent is that Ed has no job prospects there. That's more than a small problem. I have to remind myself that as much as I get frustrated with his job, it definitely pays the bills, kind of. My job wouldn't pay as much there. The government in Kansas is continuing to de-fund Education so my job may not even exist there much longer! The kids have had tremendous opportunities in Texas and Little Rock. Between gymnastics, soccer, Taekwondo, and the educational opportunities they have couldn't be matched if we had stayed in a small town. They have a lot of life experience that I never knew as a kid.

There are certainly things we are missing out on having left "home". I have to remember all the positive experiences we have had since we left though. We have lived amazing places and had some great times with truly SPECIAL people. When I think of all the friends I would not have made if we had never's worth the sad nostalgia that I feel in October. The experience, love, and friendships we have found along the way are so much more than the longing that my heart feels as the weather starts to cool down. So as I watch the World Series wind down, or the game-winning touchdown any given Friday, Saturday, or Sunday; the tear that slides down my cheek isn't so much for the loss or win of that particular game. It's a combination of the loss from my childhood and the wins I have found elsewhere as an adult. Sad and happy all rolled into one.

So much love in a single tear.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Hello From the Other Side

This past week we got to see a great example of Michaela's "other side". I talk a lot about how mouthy, crazy, and aggressive she is but she has an incredibly sweet heart when she let's it show.

I was at a training three days this week that took me to the opposite side of town and Jake had an awards program Wednesday morning. We decided I would leave early and take Joey to daycare so Ed could take Jake and Michaela to school then go back to Jake's assembly before going to work. Once he let Jake or of the car though, Michaela grinned and told him to go park. She said, "I know I'll be late for school and I might miss out on my field trip this week because of it, but it's worth it. I want to see him get his award." Of course Ed let her stay, how could he tell her no after that?!

Once the assembly started, Jake saw Ed in the crowd and waved. I'm so proud of Jake for all his hard work, by the way. The award he was receiving was for all As and Bs on his second quarter report card. Not so easy to do with his Tae Kwon do taking up so much time and energy. He is SO stinking smart and such a good student. He even does most of his homework without being asked! Love that kid to pieces. Anyway, they called his name and as he walked across the stage, he saw his sister waiting on the other side to take his picture and Ed said he just lit up like a Christmas tree! She took pictures and he asked his teacher to sit with Ed and Michaela the rest of the time.

Just in case you were thinking: wait a minute, Michaela? This can't be the same Michaela; after the awards were over several of the kids in Jake's grade came running up to say hi to her and give her hugs. The principal saw her and said, "hey girl, what are you doing?" And was happy to realize that Jake was her brother. She had to bask in her noteriety. This is a school of 600 kids and Michaela was only there 6 months last school year. She tends to make an impression quickly.

With all of her craziness and as frustrated as we get with her, it just doesn't even compare to how proud I am off the amazing young lady she is becoming. These little glimpses from the "other side" remind me what a truly wonderful person she is and I know that it will overshadow anything else she might do. I SO love that baby girl!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2.5 Years in a Nutshell

Wow, so I've fallen off the wagon here. Obviously I just had nothing interesting to write about for the last 2 and a half years...NOT! Jake and Michaela have both been taking Focalin for ADHD on school days only and their teachers can tell within an hour of the start of the day whether or not they forgot it that morning. Jake doesn't mind taking it, he wants to be able to sit still and he can tell when he doesn't have it, it makes him "wiggly". Michaela on the other hand, hates it. (Surprise.) Michaela started middle school this year--6th grade--so she has a lot more freedom and the teachers are less inclined to keep track of her and follow up with me about what she is doing. They also don't have to put up with her all day long so her little "quirks" are less annoying and not as urgent to fix for them. So we thought she was taking her meds each morning with much less fuss than before. Until my parents came to visit for Christmas.

We had a great visit with them over the holiday and they were going to take all three kids with them back to Kansas for a week so Ed and I could go to Memphis for New Year's Eve and the Liberty Bowl game (K-State vs. Arkansas, great game but we lost :( I had an AWESOME New Year!) so we had to take Joey's car seat out of Ed's car. That was when we found "the stash". Apparently, she has been stuffing her pills under Joey's car seat in the mornings. Not every morning, but several. I don't know why this surprised me but... So we had to have a talk with her about the cost of the medicine and the importance of taking the medicine we give her because if we take notes of her behavior or talk to her doctor about what is going on we are going under the assumption that she has the meds each day. If that isn't true, then we are giving inaccurate information to her doctor and that is a problem.

About 6 months after my last post, we started taking TaeKwonDo. By "we" I mean the bigs. They have done amazing in their classes and it has really been a great experience for them. I am SO glad that we went this route with them and I really think it has been a God-send for their behavior and self-control. They are still Jake and Michaela, no amount of pixie dust or magic words (or prayers!) will ever make them those kids that will sit at the dinner table and quietly eat their food without spilling drinks, kicking each other under the table, feeding vegetables to the animals, screaming how much they hate the food, or licking the dishes; but it has certainly helped! The instructors at our TKD gym have been amazing. They are like having another set of parents that will talk to them about problems at school, self-control, choices, behavior, etc. They take such good care of us, I don't even mind the small fortune it costs to keep them up to date with their classes and equipment each month! I keep telling the instructors I'm going to set up a cot in the gym because I'm practically paying rent. I'm also there so often it's ridiculous.

Due to the fact that I was spending five to six days a week at the TKD gym in increments of 1 to 3 hours at a time, I decided I might as well take class too. So I started taking classes in July. It has been AWESOME! Not only is it a great connection with the kids, it is an amazing workout. I've greatly increased my endurance and I've lost over 20 pounds! I am competing in tournaments with the kids, in fact we have one at the end of this month in Memphis. I'm hoping to place well and get some points. Michaela was the State and District champion in Combat Sparring (hitting people with a stick) last year so I have to give her some competition and motivate her to earn it in something else. I figure if I can be State champ in TWO events then she will be inclined to step it up a notch. ;)

It's so funny to imagine what new people to our gym must think when they come in. If I'm taking class, then there is a three-year-old running around--probably trying to hold up his too-big pants--playing on a tablet or new model cell phone, screaming at his 11-year-old sister and 9-year-old brother who are playing tag or hide and seek with him in the locker rooms. Every so often you hear someone scream and start crying for several minutes, and none of the adults in the other room even look in on it. Of course, it's just Ed and Angie's kids. One time our instructor started class with Joey in his arms. I really should probably pay them more.

So Joey has taken a few classes but he is not sold on the whole process yet. It usually goes something like "No, I don't want to take class tonight." Then five minutes after class starts he is screaming and crying that he wants to take class because he wants to wear his uniform. So we go to the locker room and put on the uniform only to come out and find "No, I don't want to take class. Take this off." Then he wants to wear the belt. The process repeats. I finally end up fighting a kicking and screaming kid that doesn't want to take class, doesn't want to wear his uniform, and doesn't want to put on the belt. I keep asking him, why are you crying, you aren't doing any of those things. I don't think he gets it.

Joey cracks me up. He talks so big from listening to Jake and Michaela I just can't get over the things he says coming out of that sweet little mouth. Last weekend we were watching the NFL preview show before the Chiefs vs. Texans playoff game (Chiefs, woot woot!) and he asked Ed, "What is this show? I like this." Ed told him what it was and the analysts were talking about the Chiefs season and how they started out 1 and 5 at the beginning. Joey says, "1 and 5, makes me laugh! Hahahaha!" And he continues watching the show like he was actually getting something out of which offense was expected to throw and who was likely going to be the big story of the game. Where does this kid get it? It's not like we are into sports (lol).

Anyway, so of course we are always running like crazy. But I'm learning some new tools to help me keep up with things. Hopefully I will be a little better about posting. Maybe this will keep me off Facebook some. I've noticed that I have a little bit of an addiction. I will scroll through all the new posts on my newsfeed and go back to the top and start again. I start to get frustrated when I refresh the news feed and only have two or three new posts to read. I keep thinking "Where are all my friends? What are they doing and why are they not posting about it? I need something new to read!" At that point I'm thinking I maybe need to log off and walk away. I don't think I'll be unplugging any time soon.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Busy-ness As Usual

This week the kids got to attend soccer camp.  They really had a good time and I'm glad we were able to send them.  It was kind of convenient timing because I had a workshop all this week for work and Ed has already taken some vacation time because of my work schedule.  The plan was that I would take Joey to daycare and Ed would drop the big kids off at soccer camp Monday through Thursday (the days of the camp and my workshop).  I was supposed to work from 8:30-3:30 each of those days.  Jake went to camp from 9-12 and Michaela went from 9-3 so Ed was going to pick up Jake and take him back to work for the afternoon.  I would leave work at 2:30, get Joey from daycare, and pick up Michaela to take her to swim team practice.  For anyone who is not familiar with living somewhere the size of Little Rock, it takes me a good 30 minutes to get across town on the highway and I work on the opposite corner of town from where we live.  So it is not unusual that it takes 30 minutes to an hour to pick them up from one activity and get them to another one.  Her swim team group is supposed to practice from 3:00-3:30 on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday but we got permission for her to go to the practice at 3:30-4:00 this week since soccer camp didn't end until 3.  We had everything pretty well planned out with minimal disruption to either of our work hours and the kids would be able to attend their regular activities and we only had to pay daycare for Joey for the week. But then on Wednesday we had a slight change of schedule that turned out to be a good thing but is a good example of my daughter's "Michaela-ness". 

On Tuesday, Michaela had a doctor appointment so Ed picked them both up from soccer camp at 12:00 and took them to eat and then to her appointment.  She had a swim meet at 6:00.  After the swim meet, we were talking about camp and Michaela was telling us that she was "helping out" with Jake's class in the afternoon.  I got a little upset because this kind of language usually means that Michaela has found a way to manipulate the instructors to let her do something easier than what she is supposed to do.  I was also confused because Jake wasn't allowed to attend in the afternoon because he is only six.  I mentioned that to Michaela thinking maybe she was lying again but she said maybe they got to stay because they were seven so we didn't think anymore about it.  But I had told her that Jake wasn't going to the full day camp because the rules said you had to be 7.  Michaela apparently took exception to this because she confronted the camp director Wednesday morning.  Now you have to know that the camp director is the head girls' soccer coach for UALR (University of Arkansas at Little Rock).  He's probably not accustomed to being confronted about his camp policies by a nine-year-old.  So I'm at work in my meeting and I get a phone call from a Little Rock number that I don't recognize.  I figured it might be someone from the camp...I'm never surprised that one of the "bigs" has done something that requires a call home.  When I stepped outside and answered, it was Michaela.  "Mommy, the coach said Jake can try staying all day today and if he does ok, he can stay all day tomorrow too."  I have no idea what she is talking about first of all because I was so surprised that she was the one on the other end of the phone.  Me:  "What are you talking about Michaela?"  Michaela:  "Coach said Jake could try the full day camp so Daddy won't have to leave work to come pick him up.  Is that ok?  Can you call Daddy and tell him not to come pick up Jake?"  At this point I'm a little curious that maybe she's just trying to get me to cancel Jake's ride home so he has to sit and wait on her all afternoon at camp.  I'm confused.  At this point, the coach takes the phone away from Michaela and he tells me that Michaela had said Jake would like to stay all day and it was ok with him if I wanted to let him try it.  I asked if Michaela had enough lunch for both of them because the all day campers had to take their own.  She had already told him she packed enough so I said it was ok if Jake stayed and that I would call Ed to tell him.  So I picked them both up at 3:00 and took Michaela to swim team practice.  Afterwards, I asked her, "What did you say to the coach this morning that made him call me to let Jake stay all day at camp?"  She said, " I told him 'my mom said you or one of the other coaches said that my brother can't stay for the all day camp because he too young.'  He asked, 'how old is your brother?' and I said, 'Six.'  Coach asked where he was and I showed him who Jake was then he asked Jake if he wanted to stay for the all day camp.  Jake said he did so coach said it was ok and told me to call my dad and ask but I didn't know daddy's number so I called you so you could call daddy."  Really.  So I guess she hasn't learned to mind her own business but she is definitely not afraid to ask for what she wants.  She's probably heard "no" so many times it doesn't even register with her anymore and it certainly doesn't scare her.  So Wednesday and Thursday Jake got to go to the full day camp.  He did a great job but he got pretty sunburned on Wednesday because he didn't put on any extra sunscreen after lunch.  I emailed the coach Thursday to let him know that I was really happy with their camp experience and thank him for letting Jake stay.  I'm a little embarrassed and I hope he doesn't think that I was mad about Jake not attending full day but I'm glad he got some extra training time!

Both the bigs got great evaluations from their coaches and had a great time at camp.  I love that they are doing so well in soccer and enjoying it so much.  I think swim team is a great complimentary sport for them to participate in as well.  It will keep their bodies strong and build endurance and help them stay active all year.  Jake is taking private lessons in order to learn the four strokes so he can join swim team too.  He only gets to go once a week but he "practices" in the apartment pool a lot.  I was laughing at him swimming backstroke yesterday at his lesson, it was so cute!  The coach had helped him float on his back and then kick his feet while floating and then they tried to add the arms.  Oh my goodness, his little arms were everywhere!  They were flailing around and splashing water everywhere, the coach leaned way back away from him to avoid getting smacked in the face!  She instructed him in how to keep his arms straight and turn his palms out when his elbows got to his ears.  By the end of the lesson, he was doing much better.  It was adorable to watch!  I can't wait until he is able to join swim team too.  I'm hoping I'll be able to keep them both swimming all year.  Michaela has improved and continues to get better each time she gets in the water.  She is so good at breast stroke and is working on freestyle and butterfly.  I don't think she really likes backstroke anymore because she is scared of hitting her head at the other side.  I can't say I blame her, I always was a little apprehensive about that too. 

Joey is growing so fast, he is nine months and he is pulling himself up on furniture.  We are waiting for him to start "cruising" the living room.  He really gets around.  And he is also not afraid to ask for what he wants, or just take it.  When Ed and Jake are trying to play video games, Joey grabs the controllers and pulls on the cords.  It frequently causes Ed's character to jump off a building or run right into the middle of a fire fight.  I think it's kind of funny.  We have to hide the controllers in a drawer when they aren't playing.  I finally got Ed to put his toys away!  Joey loves to watch while his bigs play on their kindles or watch cartoons.  He crawls right up on their laps so he has a good view.  This afternoon while I have been typing, he got a little upset that I wasn't paying him enough attention so he untied my shoes.  When that didn't work, he started grabbing the laptop and typing on the keys until I put it down and played with him for a little bit.  I don't think my kids will ever be in danger of being ignored.  They won't let that happen for very long.

As busy as this week has been though, the most exciting part has been today.  Michaela's doctor's appointment on Tuesday was with a psychiatrist to see if he thought she might have ADHD.  We have talked to psychologists; school principals, teachers, and counselors; a social worker; and more than one pediatrician trying to find out what is going on with her.  We have known since she was two that there were some issues but no one has been able (or maybe willing) to say she had ADHD.  Finally this year her pediatrician agreed that there is some kind of problem and sent evaluations to be filled out by us and her teacher but even with the teacher and the school counselor, they couldn't diagnose her with the evaluations and had to refer her to an actual psychiatrist because the pediatrician was convinced she needed medication of some kind but couldn't prescribe it without the diagnosis.  Just FYI, they diagnosed Jake in nothing flat with the evals and he has always been so much easier to deal with than Michaela!  Anyway, the psychiatrist had to get permission from his supervisor but decided to try the same medication and dosage that Jake is on.  I waited until today to give it to her because I wanted to be with her in case it made her feel sick or weird.  I hesitate to be excited but I can't help myself after what happened today.  We had to drive to another appointment downtown this afternoon and both the trip there and back were QUIET.  And don't forget, these trips are about 20 minutes each way and neither child had any toys, electronics, or other distractions.  They sat quietly for the entire ride.  Michaela asked me a couple of questions on the way there and on the way home they played quietly with the stickers they got at the appointment.  There was even some laughing but it was so quiet, I don't even know what they were laughing about.  I know this probably sounds crazy but anyone who has ever gone anywhere with these two could probably be picked up off the floor right now.  I'm not embarrassed to say, I was pretty choked up that my two children could behave this way.  So I took them out to eat afterwards as a reward and they were super good there too!  No fighting, so yelling, no arguing about who sat where.  I kept wondering where these kids came from. 

So even though this week has been a little crazy, there was a literal "calm" at the end.  Calm that I don't think I've ever seen before.  I have to say, I'm more than a little hopeful that this is what she has needed just to "take the edge off" of the craziness.  Maybe if the clam will last, we can deal with her a little easier.  It's nice to have something UN-usual for once.  :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sick (and Tired of Lying and Fighting!)

So school ended three weeks ago and yesterday was my fifth day off.  It seems like teaching gets fewer perks and more responsibility every year.  With my position as Math Facilitator, I work an extra week after school is out and an extra week before the teachers come back in August in order to help get organized and be ready for the school year.  I normally wouldn't complain about it (I do get paid for the days unlike when I was coaching!) but this year, I was sick on top of it.  My last few weeks have been a little more stressful than usual.

The last day of classes was Friday May 31st.  Michaela had complained the last week of not feeling well but being the last week of school I told her to go and she didn't want to stay home anyway.  I felt fine all day Friday until late that evening when my throat started to feel funny.  I ran a fever of 103 all weekend so I went to the doctor Sunday afternoon and found out I had strep so I stayed home Monday.  Michaela stayed with me so I could make sure she didn't spike a fever too since she hadn't been feeling well but we both went to work/daycare on Tuesday.  Wednesday night Jake had a fever so Ed stayed home with him on Thursday and Friday.  Ed got sick too and didn't feel well all weekend with a stomach ache and low fever.  Saturday morning, I had to go back to the doctor because the left side of my throat was getting worse and the glands in my neck were huge!  They gave me a different antibiotic (I had to make about four phone calls and three trips to the pharmacy before I actually got them late Sunday!) and I left Monday morning for a conference in Hot Springs, AR.  Sometime over the weekend, Michaela spent the night throwing up, I had a stomach ache on top of the strep, and when I got back to town on Wednesday night, Jake was throwing up.  Somehow through all of our shared sickness, Joey was fine.  We have also stayed busy as usual.  Michaela got on the local swim team and has practice Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 3:00 to 3:30.  Jake is in private lessons until he can swim well enough to be on the team.  Her meets are Tuesday evenings.  Next week, I have workshops Mon-Thurs 8:30 to 3:30, Jake is in a half-day soccer camp (9-12) and Michaela is all day (9-3).  The first week of July will be my first week that I don't have to work any day during the week.  Both big kids spent the day yesterday at church camp where they swam, did crafts, and learned about archery.  Of course archery was their favorite!  I had to cancel Jake's first swimming lesson and my housekeeper due to all the illness so the apartment was a mess and it certainly didn't help that I had spent several days in bed because I was too sick to get up.  Hopefully this was no indication of how the rest of our summer will go!

Despite being sick the whole first weekend in June and missing work on Monday, I tried to clean up the house and then I went to the grocery store with Michaela because we were out of formula for Joey.  She loves to play on my phone and I decided to take the opportunity to teach her a lesson about lying.  Michaela has had a long history of telling lies.  The seeds of dishonesty sprouted back before she could even put a full sentence together.  When she was potty training, we would give her a piece of candy as a reward when she went to the potty.  Pretty soon, she would run into the bathroom and flush the potty any time she wanted a piece of candy.  She began to plan more devious schemes when she was in preK.  She was the last one in her class to fill up her sticker chart to pick a prize from the treasure chest.  In fact, some of the other students had filled theirs twice and she had five spaces left on hers.  She had gotten several stickers in a two week time frame and we were very proud of her and told her how excited we were that she was minding her teacher in order to get the stickers.  Then she had a "great idea".  "Mommy, I can get my own stickers and put them on my star chart to fill it up.  My teacher will say 'Now how did that happen?' and I will get my prize from the treasure chest!"  We had to explain to her that while her idea was creative and a possible solution to her problem, it was cheating and cheating is not acceptable behavior.  We knew at this point that we were in for trouble.  Of course she told the usual lies that children tell, "I didn't hit my brother", "I don't know who ate the last cookie" (with crumbs all over her clothes), "The tv came on by itself", I'm sure you've heard these before.  Then in Kindergarten, she started sneaking clothes to school so she could change after she was dropped off because she knew Mommy and Daddy wouldn't approve of what she wanted to wear.  She was a teenager in a 5-year-old body.  Anyway, I saw a parenting blog about a mom who decided to teach her son a lesson about lying.  I wish I had thought of this years ago, I had to try it.  I told Michaela she could play games on my phone in 5 minutes.  She came to me a little later and said she knew that five minutes had passed because she had watched a whole TV show and could she play my phone now.  I said, "No, I lied.  You can't play on my phone now.  But lets go to the grocery store."  She was mad but she likes to go shopping so we left.  She asked if she could play my phone on the way there.  I told her no, but if she was good at the store, I would let her play on the way home.  I had to remind her a couple of times in the store but she did pretty well.  We got in the car to leave and she asked again if she could play because she had earned it.  I said, "No, I lied.  You can't play on my phone today."  She was SO mad!  I explained to her that this is how it feels to be lied to and she agreed that it was no fun.  She cried so hard and it wasn't the screaming and wailing of perceived injustice (i.e. temper tantrum) but her heart was broken because I had lied to her.  It was painful to listen to.  When we got home, I sat her in my lap and explained to her how hurtful lies were.  I asked her if I told her she could play my phone that night would she believe me.  She said no and I pointed out how easily trust is broken by lying.  I told her that I only lied to her to teach her a lesson.  And it was a very small lesson.  I promised her that I would not lie to her again unless she continued to lie and I had to teach her a bigger lesson.  That evening, she started to lie and immediately changed her mind and told the truth (I was SO excited!).  Since then, she has been MUCH more truthful and I am optimistic about being able to trust her.  Even this morning, she told her brother she doesn't lie anymore because she doesn't want to have to learn another lesson and he shouldn't either.  Score one (or ten!) for me.

I complain a lot about Michaela's behavior but she is super helpful too.  She has SO much fun with baby Joey and is (usually) so good to him!  She plays with him and fixes his bottle sometimes.  He adores his big sister.  He smiles and laughs when she walks by and holds his little arms out for her to pick him up.  Joey is crazy about Jake too.  He crawls after Jake and they make faces and funny noises at each other and laugh and laugh!  It's too cute.  I get mad at Jake though because he seems to have a weird obsession with putting his feet on the baby.  Another frequent phrase I never thought would use, "Get your feet off of your baby brother!"  I can't figure out what goes on in their crazy little heads.  We call Jake and Michaela the bigs.  Joey loves his bigs and loves to watch their craziness.  I'm sure "bigs" will be one of his first words!  He's getting close to words but mostly he just blows raspberries.  We had to put a gate across the back of the living room to keep Joey from getting into the cat food, or litter, or falling down the stairs.  Michaela likes to get him out of his crib in the morning and play with him.  But then she gets involved in a tv show and forgets to watch the baby.  Ed woke up to him banging on the bathroom floor in our room one morning so he got dressed and went to get the gate.  Joey is growing so fast.  If you say "yay!" Joey claps his hands and smiles.  He can roll a tennis ball (though his aim is not very good) and he pulls up on stuff now so he is standing.  Joey likes to play with cords and the remote controls for the tv and video games.  Daddy is proud but gets very angry when his character accidentally jumps of a cliff because Joey grabbed the controller at an inopportune time.  Baby's current favorite game is "Can I have that?  Thank you."  "You want it?  You're welcome."  We hand a toy back and forth.  He gets mad if you try to end the game when he still wants to play and he screams at you and flaps his arms.  Just another indication that he is one of the family.

I promised the crazies I would take them to the pool this afternoon so I was going to have to wrap up for now.  Unfortunately for the children, they decided to throw a ball at each other just now so we are not going.  Michaela threw it first and hit Jake in the back so Jake threw it at her and hit her in the face.  She started crying and complaining that she only hit him in the back.  She apparently didn't think it was fair that Jake had better aim.  They have been working on getting along and playing nicely together and they have been better (with some obvious slip ups).  We even made sticker charts for them to keep track of days that they don't hit or yell at each other and do their chores.  We had to include a spot for bathing too, they were starting to stink and I had to cut an inch off of Michaela's hair because she wouldn't wash and comb it.  I don't understand why I would have to bribe my children to take a bath.  We are going to try to make brownies later.  I'm supposed to have the bigs practice working together so Jake will hold the bowl while Michaela cracks the eggs and adds the oil.  Then Michaela will hold the bowl while Jake pours in the mix and stirs.  If they can get through this without brownie mix all over the kitchen it will be a miracle.  I just don't want to have to fight them to take a bath after the chocolate fight that Michaela swears she didn't start...wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rollin' With It

I hate doing birthdays.  I am not good at planning and I get all stressed out about booking a party and organizing all the details, especially invitations.  How am I supposed to invite kids to a birthday party when I don't know any of the parents and they can't hand out invites at school unless everyone is invited?  Birthdays are supposed to be special and the kid should feel like a superstar for a day but what if nobody shows up?  Way too stressful for me.  Michaela's birthday was March 8th and I really wanted to have a big party for her.  She didn't get a birthday party the last two years (I don't even want to talk about it) so this year I started early asking her what she wanted.  I was going to give her a painting party.  She loves anything to do with art so I thought this would be perfect for her.  She told me she wanted to have a gymnastics party instead.  I asked her if she was sure she didn't want to go painting and she said she wanted to see the place first.  What 8-year-old needs to pre-approve party locations?  I don't know what she expected to find or what she was looking for.  It's a place where you go paint pictures, and she's even been to a party like that before!  I tried to convice her but she insisted on going there before choosing.  Between me starting a new job and Ed working late all week and every weekend for two months, we didn't get to go "check it out" so she never made a decision, and I never booked a party.  So her birthday approached and we didn't have any big party plans.  I did get online and ordered a couple of the American Girl items that she had asked for out of a catalogue and I even had them delivered ON TIME so she got to open them on her birthday (this is huge for me).  We ordered a cake that was decorated with zebra stripes and hot pink and blue icing (her favorite colors), took her out to a special birthday supper, invited one of her school friends over for cake that night, and took cupcakes to her soccer team practice the following week.  But I still feel like I didn't do enough.  I want to take her and one of her friends for a mani-pedi but haven't yet.  I feel like I really screwed up by not having a big party this year and I can't get it out of my head.  She seemed happy with the activities and all the soccer friends told her thank you for the cupcakes and happy birthday, she really had fun with it at the time.  She enjoyed the dinner, cake, and especially having her friend come over.  The sisters came along too so there were several little girls over to see her room and play for a while and they brought her a really nice present.  Maybe I just put too much pressure on myself.  I have really high expectations.  And I think Michaela takes after me in that respect.

We took Michaela to the psychologist today.  We have struggled with her behavior and defiance for what seems like forever but a couple of months ago, we hit the breaking point.  She was fighting with Ed about getting ready for school one morning and Jake was trying to help out by feeding the cat for her so they could leave as soon as she was dressed.  She got mad that "he did her job for her" and said that if she could get away with it she would kill Jake.  Now I don't think she really meant that she would or even wanted to kill him but I can't just let that go.  We talked to the school counselor and got her an appointment to talk to the psychologist with a Child Studies program here in town.  Today was the first appointment we could get so it's a good thing she wasn't serious.  We got there today and the doctor (I really don't know if she's a psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, etc so doctor is just easiest) asked us all these questions and talked to Michaela some and she found some things she wants to follow up with.  She gave us questionnaires to fill out to help her check for ADHD, OCD, anxiety, and depression.  She thinks that mainly Michaela is having some adjustment issues with her younger brothers and maybe with the move from last summer and I think she has really picked up on some of Michaela's major problems.  I'm ready to try medication.  Michaela needs to try a low dose of something and I need a margarita IV. 

Just this evening, we had a huge blow-up over washing her hair.  You would think a 9-year-old girl would know how to wash and condition her hair without a fight but not Michaela.  She got out of the shower quite a while ago and went to her room.  I called her out to the living room because I heard her crying.  After talking with her for several minutes, she refused to tell me what was wrong and ran back to her room so I followed her.  While we were talking, I noticed that her hair wasn't combed and I asked her to get a brush.  I finally got her to tell me she had been crying because the "My Little Pony" TV show that she watches on her kindle is over and she didn't want it to end.  No matter how well I know this child, I continue to be surprised at the things she does.  Anyway, I tried to brush her hair and it didn't seem right so I questioned her and found out she didn't wash it, she just conditioned it.  It was taking too long in the shower and she didn't want to take the time to wash it with shampoo.  So I told her to get back in the shower and wash it right.  She fussed and tried to argue but I wasn't having it so she got back in to finish her hair.  When she got out, she brought the comb back to me and I went to work again.  This time, when I got to the top of her head, the comb came out foamy, she hadn't rinsed it well.  She screamed and started to argue again but then she went.  And came right back out.  I said, "No, you couldn't have rinsed good in such a short amount of time."  She had wet her hands, wiped her hair and rinsed her hands.  So I sent her back to the shower for the third time.  But she threw a MAJOR fit.  "I'm NOT getting back in the shower, I'll get my shirt wet and it takes too long!!!!"  I told her if I counted to 3 I was going to dump her, clothes and all, in the shower.  "No, I'm not getting back in the shower!!"  "1"  "Mommy, it takes too long!!!" STOMP, STOMP, STOMP, STOMP.  We live in an apartment and have neighbors below us.  I'm sure they will be suing for the ceiling chunks that have certainly been raining on them.  Michaela turned on the water in the sink again.  "2"  (Turns the sink off.)  "MOMMY!!!"  "Michaela, you are already on two.  Get in the shower.  And if you turn that sink back on that is as good as telling me NO!"  She turns the sink back on.  "3"  "NNNNOOOOOO!  MOMMY!!!"  Much screaming and crying ensues as I go to PUT the child into the tub.  Being the intelligent person that she is, she quickly stripped down and got in on her own.  But then she was mad that I stood in the bathroom with her and made sure she rinsed her hair well.  Forgive me for not wanting to repeat the previous scene.  How appropriate that I could close the shower "curtain" on her little melodrama.  I'm sure she is going to win an Oscar someday.  She is a talented little actress.

She is also unbelieveably smart.  Over the last month or so, they have been testing Michaela for the alpha program.  She gets great grades in school and I don't believe she is even performing up to her potential.  She is allowed to do artwork when she finishes her school work so sometimes she rushes through just to get done.  She doesn't always pay attention to details either.  She had to have 14 AR points for this nine-week grading period.  She got the 14 points about 4 weeks in but she only had an average of 79% and it had to be 85% or better.  So she kept taking tests, and lots of them, in order to raise her percentage.  I tried to explain to her the difficulty of raising an average but she didn't quite get it.  I think there are lots of adults who don't get it.  Anyway, the week before the grading period was over she came home one day and was so excited that she had finally gotten over 85%.  She had 36 points.  So she was able to get almost three times the number of points needed for the nine weeks but struggled to meet the average because she didn't always read carefully and got less than 80% on several tests (so they lower the average and they don't increase the points either).  But once she knew she was going to be below the average, she read more carefully and brought it up.  She's completely capable but chooses when and where.  So we asked that she be tested for gifted (alpha).  I'm not completely sure yet but I have talked with some people with the district and I think she is going to be accepted in the program.  There is also a magnet school that has a specialty program for gifted students that is supposed to be really good so we are looking into sending her there next year.  She could even start taking orchestra.  We will have to add "practicing" to our list of arguments and ordeals.  Maybe she will earn a Tony to go along with the Oscar.

Speaking of "practice", soccer started up again a couple of weeks ago.  Jake had a game first and he did SO great!  He got out there and ran as fast as he could up and down the field; he attacked the ball, even when another player was dribbling down the field; and he got a goal and an assist!  He was playing like he had back in Texas last spring and I'm so happy.  I love watching them play, they are so happy and they do such a great job on the field.  They get along with the other kids and they work as a's awesome watching kids play sports.  Michaela's team had a great first game this season too.  They got a few new girls but all of the girls came back from the fall.  Michaela played goalie most of the game, she is very aggressive and great at keeping the ball out of the goal.  The other team didn't score a single goal against her.  Then she got to play mid-field for the beginning of the second half and she worked with her forwards and she scored two goals of her own.  She is awesome.  I love watching both of them on the soccer field.  I get so worked up though, I'm always yelling and cheering.  It probably annoys the other parents, but I cheer for everybody, not just my kids.  If they don't like it, oh well.  It's not like I'm gonna change anyway.

On the soccer field Jake is doing great but he continues to act like a wild animal at school.  A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from his PE teacher that he wasn't listening in PE class.  Who gets in trouble in PE!?!  That is the one class that you are SUPPOSED to run around and jump and climb and get a little crazy, how can he screw that up?  Apparently he was angry that it was raining and he didn't want to do PE indoors because the video they did was too long.  So he sat in the middle of the floor and refused to participate.  The PE teacher asked him to play along with the other kids and Jake said NO.  The teacher told Jake he needed to either participate and do the video or go to the office for telling him no and refusing to do what he was told.  Jake chose to go to the office.  Five minutes later, another teacher brought Jake back to the gym teacher because she found him wandering around the halls when he DIDN'T go to the office.  So he got a referral to the principal for lying about where he was going on top of everything else.  Not good.  A few days later, he ended up in the principal's office again when he argued with his classmate and told him he was going to kill him.  So I guess Michaela is rubbing off on Jake.  He wasn't allowed to go to extended day and I had to come pick him up, thank goodness it was already the end of the school day anyway.  The principal said if he said it again he would probably get suspended.  I don't know how to make these kids understand that they can't talk to people like that.  Maybe they need to spend some time in an airport and let them see how stupid comments can get people stripped searched, interrogated, and held against their will.  And they think I'm mean.

Joey is growing like a little weed, at his check up today he weighed 17 pounds, 6 ounces and was 27 inches long.  But the doctor is concerned that he isn't rolling over yet.  The baby has an older brother and sister who adore him and can't stand to let him cry for two seconds so of course he hasn't learned to work hard to get to something that he wants...they hand it to him to keep him quiet.  Surprise!  So I'm supposed to work with him to get him to roll over in the next couple of weeks and let the doctor know if he still isn't rolling in another month.  I also asked about getting the big kids diagnosed with ADD or ADHD so we could try medication so we got a bunch of paperwork to fill out and they both have appointments in a month to go over the results.  I don't know if I can make it that long.

We just can't seem to get it right.  Joey is supposed to be rolling and he won't, Jake won't stop rolling when he is supposed to sit still, and Michaela is going to steam roll over anything and anyone that gets in her way.  I just roll my eyes and shake my head.  When it's time for bed though and they wrap those sweet little arms around me to give me a great big hug, I don't even care about all the craziness that happened during the day.  That moment gives me the strength I need to get through whatever they decide to shell out tomorrow.  Just keep those hugs comin' (and a margarita every now and then doesn't hurt!) 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wardrobe Malfunctions and a Week of Green

After all the sickness in the house last week, I was glad to get back to work on Monday.  We had inservice and I sat in meetings all day looking at school related data in order to analyze our strengths and weaknesses in different departments and decide where we can go from excitement didn't last long.  Since it was an inservice day though, that meant the kids didn't have school and had to go to daycare with Joey.  Both Jake and Michaela have been to daycare before and should have known what to expect, but they hadn't been to this one so they were speculating and actually got a little nervous about going.  At one point Michaela was whining about being in a room with babies and there would be only baby toys and little kids and there would be nothing for her to do all day.  I had to reassure her that there would, in fact, be big kids there and activities for them to play.  It turned out fine and they both had a great time.  Michaela even made some new friends! 

This was the third Monday of the month and this was one of the weeks that the Brownie troop was supposed to meet.  I had forgotten about two meetings already so I made a special point to remember this one so Michaela could get back into Girl Scouts, I had even set an alarm on my phone.  So instead of going straight home, we stopped at the church where they meet.  It was 5:45 and they were supposed to meet at 6:00 so we waited.  It doesn't sound too bad at first but I didn't mention that it was raining like Noah had just finished the last nails and it was like 40 degrees out.  After I parked the truck, we sat inside for a few minutes but it was already starting to fog over and get cold so I thought we should try to go inside the gym of the church to wait.  I had my umbrella in the front seat and I got it out and open before I opened the baby's door.  Jake and Michaela got out the other side and ran off in the opposite direction of the gym.  I had to hold the umbrella in the crook of my elbow because I had to use both hands to get the baby carrier out and the wind was blowing, I almost lost the umbrella completely.  I yelled at the big kids to come back this way and we went up to the church just to find the doors locked.  So we headed back to the truck.  I had to fight with the umbrella again to get the carrier back inside and when I closed it, all the water ran off the top and right on my head.  I remembered why I don't usually use umbrellas.  I think I got more wet than if I had just walked quickly without the umbrella.  We waited in the car until about 6:05.  I didn't have the leader's phone number and Michaela was a little worried about staying in the storm anyway so we went home.  I guess Brownie's was not meant to be this year.  We certainly aren't having any luck getting started.

When we finally got home, I noticed Joey seemed warm so I took his temperture and he was sick.  I had meetings with the principal and Superintendent of Secondary Education Tuesday morning and couldn't stay home so Ed did, even though he had to go to work in the afternoon.  I rushed to get ready and get to work Tuesday so I could take care of some paperwork before the meetings and called the pediatrician's office as soon as they opened to get Joey in to see the doctor before Ed had to go to work.  They don't open until 8:00 so I called about 8:05 and the only thing they had before 1:00pm was in 10 minutes.  So I called Ed and had him rush Joey to the office.  Poor baby had two ear infections!  They gave him some antibiotics and wanted to see him again in two weeks.  I left school as soon as I could to pick up the baby from Ed's work then I had to go to my doctor's appointment.  At the doctor's office, everybody loved seeing the baby, they all thought he was just adorable.  The nurse even held him and fed him a bottle while I went to use the restroom.  I discovered in the bathroom that with the morning's craziness, I had accidentally put my underwear on inside out!  (And no, I wasn't trying to get two days out of them.)  I will have to pay better attention to avoid future, possibly more embarrassing, wardrobe difficulties.  So after I saw the doctor, Joey and I picked up the big kids and went home. 

Jake was super excited when I picked him up because he got a green at school that day.  I was so happy for him but you have to realize that "greens" are few and far between for Jake and usually there is some kind of anomoly when he gets one so I asked him if his teacher had been there or if there was a substitute.  I shouldn't have asked, there was a sub.  But I was still excited for him and we congratulated him and told him how proud we were.  We have been using video games to "motivate" him to behave at school lately and it has helped a little.  For each green, he earns one mission on his games over the weekend.  We don't let him play during the week though, there isn't time between getting home at 6:00 and eating supper, doing homework, taking baths.  We don't need any more distractions.  Baby Joe was feeling better Tuesday night and Wednesday, everybody went back to school and work as normal.  I picked up the kids after school Wednesday and, wonder of wonders, Jake got a green again, and his regular classroom teacher was there!  No twirling, no undressing and redressing, no shouting out in class, she even drew a smiley face on the chart for Wednesday next to the green mark!  It was like winning the lottery, or it felt like the same odds anyway.  So I fixed Jake's choice for dinner that night.  We have been trying to teach the kids to eat at least a little of whatever is fixed for them whether they like it or not for a couple of reasons.  First if I go to the trouble of making something, they should eat it and I shouldn't have to make multiple meals every night for every family member.  Second if they are eating at someone else's house (I know, not likely these little monsters will get invited to eat with other people, but just in case...) it is rude not to eat what is served.  Anyway, in light of her "training" Michaela made a little speech at the table.  "Mommy, thank you for making dinner for us.  Daddy told me I have to eat some of it and I will eat a little bit, but I don't like this and I'm going to make myself a sandwich afterwards."  It's a step in the right direction but we have a little ways to go in the execution.  What really made me mad was that she hadn't even tasted it yet.  When I pointed that out to her she got mad and went crazy, she screamed that we never think she does anything right and stomped off to her room where she slammed the door.  That's the Michaela we know and love.  She finally did come out a little later and ate.  Turned out she liked it after all and asked for more. 

Thursday Jake got a third green in a row!  I started to worry about the delicate climate balance in Hell.  We were all so proud of him and he had earned three missions on the video games for the week.  He wanted to play one that night but I wouldn't let him, no games during the week.  He only fussed a little about doing his homework and he got it done quickly, both pages!  He really had a great week and I am so excited for him, he is really making progress.  We don't usually go anywhere in the evenings so as soon as we get home, Ed and I both change into comfy clothes like a tshirt and pajama pants.  Super elegant.  We ordered pizza for supper since Jake had been asking for it all week and we watched TV waiting for it to get here.  Michaela, however, didn't like what we were watching so she took her Kindle to her room to watch by herself.  By the time the pizza got here, she was asleep so the rest of us ate and left hers in the box.  We had ordered the pizza sliders from Pizza Hut and she had three sausage sliders waiting on the table for her to come and eat if she woke up (we learned a long time ago not to wake her, it's better to just let her miss supper)...until Petey, our cat, noticed the smell of food.  He knocked the box off the table and all three fell on the floor so he helped himself.  "You snooze, you lose" seems to be particularly appropriate here.  So Ed got up to clean up the floor and when he came back and went to sit down, I noticed the back seam of his pajama pants was completely ripped out.  Forget the barn door being open, the whole back wall had fallen down!!  "Honey, you have a huge hole in the butt of those pants."  "These are my favorite pants!"  They must have split when he bent down or the last time he wore them.  He was so sad.  He has another pair just like them but I guess I'll have to get him some more.  Maybe a size bigger.

After Eddie changed pants we watched a little TV then I went to bed a little early.  Joey hadn't gotten his medicine yet so I asked Ed to give it to him before putting him down for the night.  Ed needs to go to the eye doctor but refuses, so he can't read the instructions on the medicine bottles and he had to ask me how much Joey needed.  (This is just one of the many reasons I tell people I have FOUR kids...)  I told him 1/2 a teaspoon.  He said, "ok, a tablespoon", and I said, "no, a TEAspoon."  Well, in the process of correcting his joke, he misinterpreted or misheard, or somehow missed what I said.  He gave Joey a full teaspoon of antibiotic.  Thank God it wasn't Tylenol or ibuprofen.  He gave Joey two double doses before I noticed Saturday morning.  I was holding the baby and asked Ed to get his medicine.  He brought me the dropper and I said "you realize this is way over 1/2 a teaspoon don't you?"   Ed: "What do you mean HALF a teaspoon, you told me it was a whole teaspoon!"  Me:  "No I told you 1/2."  Ed: "You said a teaspoon."  Me: "I did NOT say 'a teaspoon'.  Why would I say a teaspoon when I know it's a 1/2 teaspoon.  You are just mad that you can't read and are trying to blame this on me!"  Jackass.  It wasn't even a whole teaspoon in the dropper.  Looking back, I bet he thought I was saying ONE teaspoon when I had to correct him saying a tablespoon.  Either way, it's his own fault.  If he'd just get his eyes checked he wouldn't have to ask me in the first place.

Friday morning, the kids got up extra early and got dressed right away because they wanted Ed to take them to McDonald's for breakfast before they went to school.  Jake had been so good this week and they were so sweet that morning, ready to go by 6:30!, so Ed agreed and got up to take them to breakfast.  They left for school and I was finishing packing up the baby when my phone rang.  It was Ed and I couldn't imagine what he wanted, I was afraid something was wrong.  When I answered, Ed asked if I had left yet.  I said no and he asked if I would bring Jake a shirt.  "What do you mean bring Jake a shirt?  What kind of shirt?"  The kids have to wear specific uniforms to school but on Fridays they can wear jeans with their Baker tshirts.  I thought maybe Jake had worn a regular shirt, or maybe Ed was confused and thought he needed a polo instead of his Baker tee.  No, it wasn't any of that.  Jake had been so excited to get dressed and eat breakfast at McDonald's he hadn't changed his shirt at all.  He was still wearing his batman pajama top!  Fortunately, I had planned to run through McDonald's for breakfast anyway (I love their oatmeal!  One of the ladies I work with calls it "crack" oatmeal.  It's REALLY good!) so I brought the kid one of his uniform shirts and met Ed in the parking lot.  Jake and Michaela were in the booth at the window banging and waving at me.  They left dirty handprints all over the window but I decided to look on the bright side, at least it wasn't cheek, face, or tongue prints.  This time.  I got my food in the drive thru and went to work to eat.

That night, Joey had another episode of his exploding poo.  I chalk this one up to the overdose of antibiotics... I went to change his jammies and he was almost out of clean sleepers.  Michaela brought me the last clean one in the drawer, such a good helper, and I changed the baby.  Now, he had worn these jammies just last week and they were just fine but Friday night when I put them on him, they were so short, he couldn't even straighten his legs!  I knew he was hitting a growth spurt, he had been eating more formula more often all week but I had no idea he was growing so fast!  So I put him in a onsie and a blanket sleeper, the kind that is like a sack, so he would be warm and decided I would have to buy him some bigger jammies at the store over the weekend.  I found three new pairs of pajamas for Joey at Walmart Saturday morning.  Unfortunately, there weren't any of Ed's jammie pants.  I got them at Kohl's originally so I'll have to check there later. 

Crazy enough, Michaela is the only one in the family that didn't have clothing issues this week, she used to be the one that had them all the time.  I remember when she was in first grade, we had to start checking her backpack every morning before she went to school because we found out she was going to the bathroom after she got to school and changing clothes.  She had a sundress that she had outgrown and she liked to take it and wear it as a skirt with a shirt over it.  One day, she convinced Ed to let her wear a button down cardigan with no shirt underneath.  It looked terrible and I had to explain to Ed that if he felt it was "not quite right" he shouldn't let a six-year-old talk him into it.  I'm thankful now for the uniform policy at their new gradeschool.  It alleviates some of these problems!  We obviously can't escape all of the trials of modern fashion but with better attention and planning, maybe we can at least prevent future clothing "accidents" in the busy-ness of day to day life!