Friday, February 29, 2008

They'll never be winners of a spelling bee

Today I was subbing at J's school in a 3rd grade class. Because of this, I had the amazing privilege (note sarcasm) of attending the all-school assembly the last 30 minutes of the day. It was to close our their "Kindness Month". There is something sad about having to designate a specific time of the school year to be kind, instead of incorporating it into the entire year's theme. Also, why do they wait until February to talk about kindness? Shouldn't this be addressed on the first day of school? But, I digress...

Part of the month's festivities was a contest for the students in 5th grade. They could create a cheer which would be judged by teachers and the cheerleaders from our local high school. The winner would receive a pizza party for his/her class and a $100 donation to the charity of the winner's choice. The charity donation was a really good idea. If that wasn't enough, the two runners up and the grand prize winner got to actually hear the cheerleaders perform the cheer, like, that is sooooooooooo cool. (again, note sarcasm)

This really was exciting for the winners and we all sat there politely listening and watching as the cheerleaders performed. The more we watched, the more disturbed we became. It quickly became evident that the back row of cheerleaders could not spell. When the cheer was to chant "K-I-N-D-N-E-S-S" I was appalled as I watched some of the girls just totally shut down after K-I-N. They couldn't remember the rest?

It was worse with "R-E-S-P-E-C-T-F-U-L". The back row didn't even try to attempt it. How sad is that? These are high school girls that should be able to spell and clap and stomp their feet all at the same time--otherwise they shouldn't be cheerleaders!

You could argue that maybe they were confused, they lost their place in the cheer, or othe cheer was so quickly created they did not know it, but wouldn't you catch on after the 3rd or 4th time through?

Some cheerleaders (obviously not the ones in our district) work really hard to bring an attitude of R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the act of cheering, but the ones who are more interested in looking cute and shaking their hineys make me realize that I really hope my girls are more interested in PLAYING sports instead of standing on the sidelines with a fake tan and a mini-skirt.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I've given birth to Mike Sever

I've been homeschooling L and O, and I guess inadvertently, K this entire school year. I started out homeschooling L and O because of the sorry excuse for preschools in our area and since K wants to do everything they do, she's learning right along with them.

In the beginning of the school year, things were great, fun, exciting, thrilling--they were swell. And, for the most part, as far as O is concerned, things are still swell. L is another story...

Now, we are the complete opposite of swell. If swell were a food it would be a big, giant piece of chocolate cake dripping in luscious chocolate frosting. Right now folks, we're enduring the homeschooling equivalent of liver and onions.

These are the things he doesn't want to do ever in his little 5 year old life:
1. learn to tie his shoes
2. say the Lord's Prayer with his sisters and me. He'd rather sit like a mute even though he knows all the words. I make them say this every day because for every funeral and wedding they attend on my husband's side of the family, they'll be saying it and I want them to know what to say. Plus, I want them to learn Bible versus while we homeschool, so this is killing two birds, you might say.
3. say the Pledge of Allegiance. Again, he's mute.
4. learn to read three letter words.
5. sit still unless he's actually in a chair. How will he ever survive Kindergarten if he can't sit still on carpet?

Here is what he wants to do:
1. learn math
2. bark like a dog
3. write his first name--but not his last. He won't even include a last initial which will possibly be problematic seeing as we live in a small town and there is another boy with his same name entering Kindergarten this fall.
4. play Lego Starwars on the computer
5. talk to his sisters during story time
6. do ridiculous things to make his sisters laugh and then when corrected says, "But Mommy, I'm just trying to make them joyful!" Then he shoots me that GRIN.

It was today that I realized who he reminds me of: Mike Sever. Remember Mike from Growing Pains fame? Cute, fun loving, kind, crazy, silly Mike. It makes a great t.v. character, but a very frustrating little five year old.

Part of the problem is that I'm realizing more and more I am a perfectionist. And, although I don't voice this out loud to my children, in my mind I am comparing L to his brother J who since the moment he arrived on this earth, has been the epitome of compliant.

It's all a challenge and it's teaching me a lot of patience and I'm learning to see the positives and praise him for those instead of being a bothersome nag. I've known many people who have home schooled and none of them have ever said how frustrating it was. Either I'm doing something wrong, or they weren't being completely honest because homeschooling is hard. Sometimes it's not fun and if I had to do it indefinitely, I'm not sure I could.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying this time I have with them. In a few months they'll be off to "real" school. The house will be quiet. And I will miss L's barking and his silly jokes like crazy.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

But don't talk back to Darth Vader...

This little girl is so cute I want to eat her up. Judging from the amount of Star Wars watched, reinacted, and Lego Star Wars played at our house, K will be doing this pretty soon.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Safe food?

While shopping at our local, small town grocery store the other day, I walked past the meat department and spotted at huge sign with bold letters stating, "WE CARRY NO MEAT INVOLVED IN THE RECALL."

I breathed a little sigh of relief since I frequently buy meat from our local store, but at the same time, I was completely saddened that this is what the state of our food has come to.

It used to be that people had to be worried about contracting an illness from poor handling of food in their own kitchens. We all have been paranoid about washing properly after preparing poultry, and making sure our mayo stays cold at picnics. But now, we have to fear an even bigger problem and that is the safety of our food supply seems to be more and more in question. And it's not just meat. I remember a few years ago that people were getting sick from Malt-o-Meal brand dry cereal. Dry cereal? Then there's the whole spinach fiasco of not so long ago. It seemed like forever before it was back on grocery store shelves and even then, I think people were hesitant to buy it.

It's enough to make me want to move to the country, grab a big floppy hat and some overalls, and start growing my own food. For as far as we have come as a society, we should have reliable safety measures and inspection processes in place so that the welfare of the American people isn't put in jeopardy for eating a bowl of cereal.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why just four?

"Mommy, why don't we have five kids?" L asked me the other day.

"Because we have four," I answered. (real profound, huh?)

"But, I want five. We need five. I want a brother and I will be very nice to him. I will play with him and Mommy, you won't even have to do much because I'll change his diapers," he sounded like he was pleading his case to buy a puppy.

"We have four kids because that's what God wants us to have." There, I thought, let's push this off on GOD because I don't want to get into birth control with my five year old son.

"Please, Mommy!" he begged. "Please, I want a brother, please, please."

"You already have a brother and there would be no guarantee you'd get another one. So, I suggest if you really want another baby in our house, then you pray and ask God for one and if He thinks we need one, then He'll give us one."

A few moments passed as there was complete silence from L. I could tell he was thinking and then he said, "You know what. I just prayed and stuff and I think I don't need one anymore. Four is good."

Yes, it is my dear child. FOUR IS GREAT!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Skunk Tale

I realized at about 1:00 this afternoon when my friend stopped by, and then again at 5:00 this evening when Mike came home from work that my feeble attempts to rid the house of foul odor did nothing. Granted the smell wasn't as strong, but it definitely wasn't gone. The kids and I had become immune to it.

So, I made a trip to good old Bath and Body Works to buy a wallflower refill. I was pretty angry as I made my way into the store thinking about how some stupid creature was really messing up my home and the more I thought about it the more enraged I became until the poor gentleman who tried to help me in the store was accosted with more information than he had bargained for. (As a side note--what kind of guy wants to work at Bath and Body Works?)

Our conversation went like this:

BBW GUY: Can I help you find something?

ME WITH DESPERATION IN VOICE: Yes, I need a lot of Blissful Blackberry wallflower refills because my home has been invaded by skunk smell and it won't go away.

BBW GUY: Oooooo, so sorry, we've discontinued that scent.

ME WITH LOOK OF ARE YOU KIDDING ME ON MY FACE: NO!!!!!!!!! You don't understand. That's the smell I like and it will hopefully overpower the skunk smell. We are all going to start to stink and it will be embarrassing.

BBW GUY: You're telling me you have a skunk IN YOUR HOUSE? Why don't you get rid of it?

ME WITH SARCASM: How exactly can I get rid of them? Nobody seems to be able to help me and now everything stinks and I need blissful blackberrry!

He went on to suggest a variety of nauseating smells that I hated until I decided to settle with some raspberry vanilla concoction that is growing on me as I sit here while it permeates the house.

In an effort to nicely "ask" the skunks to leave, Mike set up a light under the deck that is so bright I think it could alert ships in New England. The theory behind this being they will be offended by the light and then quietly pack up and leave peacefully.

These skunks probably have sunglasses and are enjoying the lamp for the heat it gives off. Mr. Skunk and his brothel are probably out there throwing a party for all the neighborhood critters. We have the Hugh Hefner of the skunk world living under our deck and I have a husband who won't tear the stupid thing down.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I hate skunks

If you are a person who ponders deep questions and hopes to one day ask God these questions, then please put the following one on your list because it's going to be on mine.


Last year--almost exactly at this time, we realized there was a skunk brothel under our deck. Then when we tried to trap them, we realized there was a virtual wild kingdom out there as we ended up catching raccoons, possums, and squirrels all before catching the skunks that we ended up shooting.

This capital punishment was what most of my posts on my previous blog were about a year ago because we were in the midst of a horrible time; however, some psychopath who must wear skunk perfume and invite them over for dinner wrote me threatening emails for killing said animals.

What this crazy nut didn't realize is that the smell had infiltrated our house, we were going out in public smelling of skunk, and the only way to completely rid our house of the odor was to open all windows, turn on the ceiling fans, and shut off the heat while the house aired out. Living in the Midwest is not conducive to open windows in February! The kicker was when J went to school smelling like skunk. His locker smelled from his coat, his books and notebooks smelled, and he was embarrassed.

We did some research last year and realized that February and March is mating season and the males often spray other males when they're fighting over their overabundance of females. Yes, they have harems! Life is just grand.

I'm not failing to see the irony in all of this. Last night was Valentine's Day and if anyone tells you that skunks don't celebrate, they are wrong because there was a whole lot of lovin' going on and I guess our little harem didn't want to be disturbed because I was awakened to the foul smell as it penetrated our house and moved through the heating ducts.

We're now sitting in a house that is a refrigerator, candles are burning, Febreze has been sprayed everywhere and I'm making plans to remove our deck as I design what our new patio will look like. Meanwhile, I'm plotting their death and no nutty skunk lover is going to deter me from my quest to rid my backyard if these disgusting animals.

Skunks must die.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tantrums. I think I'd like to have one of my own.

There are times that as a parent, I don't know what to do in situations and I want to throw up my hands and run away in defeat. I feel like this almost daily as I try to get through days with O without losing my mind. She's been throwing the worst temper tantrums and not only are Mike and I sick of them, but her siblings are to the point where they just start crying or retreating somewhere quiet when she begins one of her unpleasant spells.

I don't know why this is happening other than the fact she is 100% stubborn 99% of her life. When that 1% of compliance makes an appearance, we all just stop and look at each other amazed because we know that it is a miracle. What is most frustrating is that we have the same disciplinary boundaries for her as we do for the other three. Sure, they do defy us sometimes, but the respect for authority is there. The desire to please outweighs the desire to push the limits. But not with O.

I've read books about strong willed children and most of them say that this strong will that is inherent in a child is present from birth and what the parents to do channel this will makes all the difference. Right now, I don't even know how to begin to channel this horrendous strong will in the correct direction because the battles are so close together with her that I don't have the energy to direct anything. All I do is discipline. There is very little "molding" time.

Then again, maybe the discipline is the molding? I don't know. To me, I feel that if molding were actually taking place then there would be less tantrums.

Part of me feels like the girl has lived to voice her independence since her conception. Before I even was pregnant. I knew there were two potential follicles there, but the fertility specialist told me that, "The one on the right won't fertilize because it isn't big enough." And then six weeks later we found out that "the one on the right" did indeed fertilize. At that point, we were told that there was a 70% chance one would miscarry and since the right sided follicle was the lesser developed, it would probably be that one. She proved them wrong and went on develop quite a personality!

Take for example, when I was pregnant with her. I was in the hospital on bedrest and was on a monitor 30 minutes at a time, four times a day. L would stay put--right underneath the monitor pad, but O would roll around, do jumping jacks, swing from my ribs, and terrorize her brother while I chased her little rolling body through my skin in hopes to actually trick her into thinking I wasn't trying to actually monitor her.

When the doctor tried to do an ultrasound, she would roll around constantly. Part of the reason we didn't know about her cleft was that she wouldn't ever show her face. It was much more fun for her to hide.

After she was born this stubbornness was probably what helped her be such a little fighter in the NICU, but she drove the nurses crazy. She would manage to take off her little booties, remove the protectors they had on her eyes to shield them from the bili-light, take off her heart monitor, and scoot to the end of her bed and get into a big ball of wires and mess. It became a joke amongst the nurses that whoever had O on their shift was in for constant action because she kept them on their toes. She didn't like the first cleft palate bottle (the Haberman) they tried to give her and refused to eat if it was used. It wasn't until out of desperation a nurse used a Mead-Johnson that she actually would eat from a bottle. We were prepared to go home feeding her with an NG tube. Again--everything was on her terms.

I don't know what do to anymore. I've prayed, read books, implemented enough Supernanny techniques that I swear I could start speaking with an English accent, and I'm still at a loss for what to do. I'm frustrated and most of all, I'm afraid this will never get better.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Adding insult to injury

Last night I decided to take K with me while I was shopping for some birthday presents for J. It seemed like a good idea when we left the house, but then, of course, it started raining as soon as we decided to start getting in and out of the car to go into various stores. We've had so much rain around here that I'm starting to think Noah is going to show up with an ark or, the scientists will announce that for some freakish reason, the Midwest's climate is now turning into Seattle's.

On our exit from Target, the rain was particularly strong. The drops were big and they were blowing sideways. I wrapped K up as best I could, grabbed my purse and bags and headed for the door. After the other night's events in the bathroom, I realized that K has a new love of the word HUGE. Everything is HUGE. Her grapes are HUGE. Her glass of milk is HUGE. Her hair, which is growing rapidly, isn't long, it's HUGE.

So, she says as we get ready to hit the sidewalk, "Mommy, these raindrops are HUGE!"

Then she giggled ever so slightly and continued, "They're HUGE like your panties!!!!"

At this point, she threw her head back and laughed like she was the funniest commedianne in the world. Behind me, I could hear laughter. It was a couple who were probably in their late 60's or early 70's. The man had his hand over his mouth trying to hide his smile, and his wife was doing something similar. She was wearing one of those old lady plastic hairbonnets and a sparkly red sweatshirt that said, "TGIF: THIS GRANNY IS FUN."

They apologized for laughing, but said it was one of the funniest things they've heard such a little person say.

I had to agree and anyone who will be seen with, or actually wear that gawdy of a sweatshirt out of love for their grandchildren, is allowed to laugh.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Confidence booster

Last night as I was getting ready for bed, K decided to barge into my bathroom. You know, because that's just what she does. She's two, she's independent, and she has no respect for others' privacy.

She announced she had to go to the bathroom, so while I brushed my teeth, she went and then she said, "You go, Mommy."

So, I went. I think this was all part of her devious little plan to insult me because the next thing she said was, "You have a HUGE bottom!"

I looked at her stunned and then started to laugh.

Next she looked at my underware, which were now down around my ankles, and said, "Your panties are so HUGE, Mommy!"

And then I laughed so hard that I cried.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Dear, sweet, ultra-independent, winter-pajama hating K had a solution to the never ending saga of, "No you cannot wear a summer nightgown when our house is chilly because then your feet are like ice cubes."

She thought she'd show me.

She put the summer nightgown over the winter pj's.

Two year olds can be so challenging, but so fun.