Monday, November 30, 2009

NaBloPoMo - What I Learned

I came.  I registered.  I blogged daily.  For 30 days. 

What do I have to show for it? 

Should it be another T-shirt? 
I blogged for 30 days and
all I got was this lousy
sticker on my

I could do the t-shirt, because I doubt I'm getting any tangible rewards from it.  No prizes, I'm sure.  Too many other people in the running, plus I forgot to add my blog to NaBloPoMo's blogroll until about 2 days ago, so I'm loooooooooooow on the list. 

But I have intangible rewards.  I've learned things from doing this for 30 days straight.

  1. Blogging 30 days in a row, during one of the busiest Falls I've ever had, has been exhausting.  But so's having a puppy, chairing a strategic plan, executing my first Thanksgiving, helping a neighbor at 2am last night (don't ask, just suffice it to say yet another weekend night that Missy's sleep went out the window - NOT by choice).  So why not now, right?  It was a great time to see if I could do it and I could!
  2. I was forced to write about things other than complaining about the hard parts of parenting.  Even I can't come up with whining for 30 days straight!
  3. I learned to think outside the box and tried to pay better attention to the little things. 
  4. I raised my readership significantly.  Including inviting some family members to the site - which was terrifying.  But ultimately rewarding - so far.  Couple of people just learned Friday, so we'll see if I get any hate mail.  ;)
  5. I had fun!  Even on the days when I didn't really want to do it.   
Most of the time I'm a realist.  Therefore, I'm not going to say "Hip, Hip, Hurray!  This was SO wonderful!  I'm doin' it every day for the rest of my natural born life!" 

It's December.  Also known as the "most wonderful time of the year."  Sometimes coined as "so much fun it's painful."  Always known as "the month you can barely find your fanny with both hands because they're always so full of your December tasks." 

So here is my promise.  FIVE days a week, instead of 7.  I think that's reasonable, don't you?  I'm taking Tuesdays and Saturdays off in December. 

Then in January, I really do intend to ramp back up to 7 days a week.  This blog is making me a better person.  Swear.  Why?  Because I have an outlet.  Instead of these thoughts swirling " 'round me head like a whirlpool with nowheres to go," I can get it onto "paper" and improve my mental health.  It really is less expensive than therapy!  Couple hours lost sleep a day and "hurrah!"  Instant zen.

So see you Wednesday.  Tomorrow I'm eating bon-bons and watching the Price is Right after sleeping in until 10:30.  I've earned it.

What?  I still have a family to nurture?  Oh rats.  Then tomorrow I'm doing everything I've ignored since last Tuesday.  My to-do list is 31 items long.  And that's all extra "stuff."  Not just the day to day upkeep of life. 

Wednesday?  Dunno - but it'll be better than working on that list, I'll bet! 

Happy Monday!  You KNOW it's my fave day of the week. 


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Super Sunday Series - You know your child is Gifted when . . . verbal! Curiosity! Memory!

Today's Super Sunday Series spends a little more time on 3 gifted traits that I published in the non-exclusive laundry list a few weeks ago. 

They are strong verbal skills, intense curiosity and an unusually good memory.  The Survival Guide for Parents of Gifted Kids by Sally Yahnke Walker, Ph.D. (see?  I do look at other books besides my oft-quoted ones!), discusses these succinctly and with great examples.  This was my first book on "gifted" and it's a wonderful introduction for people trying to figure it all out.  I bought it when Oldest was 3. 

She says the following about these three traits:
1.  Strong Verbal Skills
If your child is like most gifted kids, she probably possesses a motor mouth that rarely shuts down.  These kids also tend to have sophisticated vocabularies that sometimes alienate them from their peers who don't understand the big words.  . . . Bright children not only hear and understand big words, they can also apply them in the correct context.  Page 49.
2.  Intense Curiosity.
Gifted kids are hungry for knowledge.  They are trying to find information about their world.  Some of them want to know all about everything.  They can be like grasshoppers, jumping from subject to subject, interest to interest.  Other gifted kids want to know about one specific topic at a time.  They become the resident experts on that topic.  Their questions can be endless.  From the minute they wake up until they collapse, their minds are at work, trying to make sense of their world.  Even at lights out, their questions continue.  You'll notice this even when they're very young.  More than one parent has put it this way:  "My child is like a sponge, trying to soak up everything."  Pages 45-46.
3.  Unusually Good Memory.
Gifted and talented kids generally have excellent memories, which they frequently put to good use by reminding their parents of things they may have forgotten (or wished to forget).  Page 48.

I include these three in one post because I find them inter-related.  Their descriptions in the book are all similar.  Kids with a good memory or intense curiosity tend to be really verbal about it. 

So how do these traits apply in our house?  In an inter-connected, hand in hand way.  :)

Strong Verbal.  A lot of places you read talk about this trait as an either/or trait.  Either your child starts talking extraordinarily early and at a very high level, or your child may not speak at all until one day he starts speaking in full sentences. 

We have one of each in our house.  Oldest had less than 6 words at 18 months of age.  By 21 months, however, she was speaking in 6-8 word sentences.  Youngest's speech development was much more consistent, but still rapid.  At her two year appointment, while the nurse was asking this question:

"Does she speak in at least 2 word combinations that you can understand?"

Youngest was asking me THIS question:

"Mommy, is Docker X coming in ta give me dat shot?" 

It's pretty funny to hear that sentence coming out of this little body. 

Intense Curiosity.  Intersestingly, we did call Oldest the sponge for many years, even before reading this book.  It was the only way to describe her.  There were places we would go and things we would do where she would get this look in her eye that you knew she was drawing it all in, and I do mean all, to process and then come back to us with questions later.  She wouldn't hear us, she would see nothing but what she was watching or listening to.  Plus, I've shared some of her learning obsessions.  She's a "become the expert on one thing at a time" girl.  Remember, she hit a child who put the wrong "Wonder Pet" behind the wheel of a submarine when she was 4 years old.  This, coming from the girl who never hits anyone. 

Unusually good memory.  Both of my kids have an unusually good memory.  We also call Oldest the Computer and she doesn't like it.  Not at all.  It might be the perfectionist in her, feeling like she might not live up to the standards of a computer, but it might also be based on a more "kid-like" fear - that thinking of herself as having a brain like a computer might make her "not real."  So we mostly do it behind her back now - good parents that we are!  She remembers everything, everything!  There are things she regurgitates to me that I might have said 6 months earlier - and she can recall it verbatim!  The book states you have to be careful what you promise your child because they will bring it back to you months, or even years down the road and it's so true here! 

So I think that does it for my exploration of gifted traits - for now.  Please click on a recap of all of them in one tidy bundle if you missed any. 

Tell me - what is your child's most prevalent gifted trait?  Can you narrow it down?  I don't know that I can.  Part of the complexity of giftedness is its multi-faceted surface, right?  Which doesn't even go into the deep oceans of their "little" brains.  If I had to choose a couple for Oldest though, it would be perfectionism and memory.  But then I want to add asynchronous development and verbal skills as well.  Hard to decide and I'd love to hear from you!

See you tomorrow for my FINAL NaBloPoMo entry.  I'll give a little review of what I think of good ol' NaBloPoMo, which, if you don't know, is blogging daily for a month - no matter what. 

And in December the Super Sunday Series will focus on giving your child a chance at success during the "most wonderful time of year."  We're talking basic necessities, people.  It will be applicable to all kids, not just giteds. 

See you!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dear Santa

Why a letter to Santa?  From a grown-up?  Because Santa is magic and he brings things you can find nowhere else. 

Dear Santa -

Please see my enclosed wish list for Christmas this year.  I have bolded and italicized those things most important for a fulfilling 2010.  I hope this letter finds you well, fattening up for the big trip.  I could use a little less fattening up from the last few days, but I'll address that below.  Tell the Missus I say hello.  I'll bet it's hard to be a single mom with you so busy the entire month of December.

Missy's Santa List - Christmas 2009. 
  1. Sleep dust.  Sprinkle a little on myself each night, enabling me to stop doing things and just go to bed.  Seriously, buddy.  I really mean it this year.  I've been asking for this since Christmas of 2002, which, coincidentally, was the year Oldest was born. 
  2. A blogging fairy.  Can you bring me a little fairy who can run around my blog enhancing it?  I would prefer this at night, so I have fun little surprises to wake up to (besides the current fun little surprise of what time Lilly's going to wake up each day). 
  3. An office organization fairy.  Same idea as #2.
  4. Willpower widget.  After the "most wonderful time of year," I ususally need that pretty badly.  Just click and voila!  Instant willpower.
  5. The Instant Einsten.  I have many, many, many things I still want to learn.  Sadly, my time is limited.  I'll give you my "subjects," you download them to a chip and then I just insert them in the back of my neck. 
  6. The Motivator.  Our family, as a whole, has challenges leaving the house on my time schedule for certain functions.  I am tired of this.  The Motivator will, of course, "motivate" them to get to the car when needed.  It even does this without pain for the first 20 times someone is running a little behind, which I think is a nice learning curve for our straggler(s). 
  7. The Silence is Golden Switch.  I mainly need this for the car.  Flip that little switcheroo and Ahhhhhh, instant silence.
  8. Rudeness Repellant.  I think this comes as a perfume.  I wear it, people are unable to be rude around me.  Everyone's happy(er).
  9. Lie Detector.  Always wanted one.  Don't like liars.  Period.
  10. And the ususal - Peace on Earth, Goodwill to men and maybe a few more date nights for just the two of us thrown in for giggles.
  11. OK, one final thing - the H1N1 House Bag.  No one in our family wants the Swine Flu.  Especially this "stronger strain" or "more virulent spreading" that "they" are saying might happen this spring.  So the Bag I'm talking about needs to be large enough to fit over our house - kinda like the turkey bags some people just cooked with on T-giving.  Bow to tie it off is optional. 
Santa, I've scoured the stores for these items and they're just not there.  Target, WalMart, specialty stores, Macy's, Nordstrom, Best Buy, Sharper Image, - nuthin' - all sold out, apparently.  I have faith in you, my long-time benefactor, to pull through for me this year.  Let's make it a GREAT 2010! 

Hugs and Kisses,

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Day Late Not a Dollar Short

I have a confession to make.  My big plan to host Thankgiving for 18 people - for the first time?  It didn't happen yesterday.  Yesterday we went out to eat, just the 4 of us, for Thankgiving.  Ahhhhh, relaxing bliss. 

The 18 person extravaganza happens today, people!  Yesterday, while everyone was doing the eating after the preparing, I was doing the preparing in anticipation of today's eating.  

I LIKE it this way.  I like that Husband's family is so flexible that they are willing, happy even, to do Thanksgiving a day late.  Now that (almost) all of us are married, it also opens the door nicely for married couples not having to make a choice between one family or another.  And it gives our immediate family a chance for a day of quality time.

That is good. 

Today, I'll make ask everyone to do the typical "go around the room and say what you're thankful for" bit.  Here's mine:

My first Thanksgiving with your family was in 1998.  I snuck into the bathroom off and on that whole day, crying for the loneliness I felt.  I didn't feel like I was part of your family - and I missed my family and our traditions so much.  That was a hard year. 

Since then, I've learned to be thankful for so much from your family, and mine.

To Husband's "side:" 

I am thankful for your obessession with sports, which means you won't be looking into the corners of my house to find where I forgot to clean/shoved extra stuff.  You will be too busy with TV. Go "whatever team it is you're interested in today!"

I am thankful you all are so easy to please. 

I am thankful that you trusted me to cook this meal for you today.  No matter how it turns out.  Gulp.  And no matter how panicked I've woken up this morning, thinking if everyone ate another Thanksgiving meal yesterday, does that mean no one's going to eat everything I've done for today? 

I am thankful to feel a part of your family fully now, and that you all look at my quirks with only mild bemusement.

To my "side:"

I am thankful that you taught me, over years of watching, how to do my own thanksgiving.

I am thankful that my Mom and Dad fielded 6 calls from me yesterday morning as I "refreshed" my memory of how to do it.  No matter how old and capable a person becomes, sometimes Mommy really is the only one who can help.  And I am so grateful to still have her.

I am thankful that I talked to my sister, who reminded me that the turkey is the only thing that will fit in the oven for 6 hours and I needed to plan accordingly.

I am thankful that although our "side" doesn't do Thanksgiving together, we are still together in spirit.

To "my" family:

I am thankful to Husband for taking those kids outta the house spending some quality time with his girls yesterday and today so that I could do the hard stuff on my own (with a little phone help).  They had quite the adventure, I'm told!  Finding an open restaurant on T-giving Day, among other things.  Like a drum set.  Huh?

I am thankful that God gave me this awesome life. 

I am so thankful that we decided on Friday instead of Thursday for the full meal here.  Who needs Black Friday?  Seriously, I'm asking.  What do you get that MUST be gotten on Black Friday?  Nothing has ever motivated me out of a warm bed that early unless it was a living thing needing fed.   

I am thankful that our puppy, Lilly, seems to be settling in and not having as many sleepless nights and potty-fests in our house.  Today is Friday, though, the big overnight test

See you tomorrow!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thankless Thanksgiving? Maybe, Maybe Not

So I thought of this great post in church the other morning.  I actually sent Husband outside with the kiddies so I could write some notes after Mass.  With Youngest screaming "but I wanna be wif mommeeee" the whole way out.  For being the most independent little cuss I've ever seen, that kid sure does "wanna be wif mommeeeee" quite a bit.  And I love it, most of the time. 

But not when I'm takin' notes, people!

I need to thank Parenting, the School Years for helping bring this post to fruition.  I'd been wondering how to write it without seeming ultra-ungrateful for my life, here on Thanksgiving Day of all times, and one little sentence in one little article did it for me.  Phew.  Conscience cleared.  Here.  We.  Go.

Missy's Dilemma.

I get frustrated with these holidays - the "most wonderful time of the year."  It's stressful.  I want to savor the real reasons for the holidays.  I've gained that desire as I've had children and look at all of the commercialism and JUNK our children are exposed to, no, targeted, by companies trying to sell "them" on things (when it's actually make them rabid about needing something so that Mom and Dad will waste spend the money on something that's going to last for a day).  And it starts before with Thanksgiving.

I want my children to learn, exhibit, experience, LIVE things like gratitude, gratefulness, graciousness. 

I don't want them acting like the little beasts that children can always be during the holidays sometimes be. 

Guess what my kids want during the holidays?  None of that "stuff" that MOM wants, that's for sure!  First and foremost, they want their normal routine back, thank you very much.  They don't know that, but that is truly what they need - their normal routine that doesn't include a crazy, stressed Mommy trying to do everything, be everything for everyone.  They want to not be dragged around on holiday shopping errands.  They're kids, they're not meant for that kind of activity. 

At Thanksgiving, they don't want YUCKO stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberries.  They want PB & J and are virtually sickened by the options given to them on this most EAT-FULL of all holidays .  Are all kids this way or just mine?  I certainly remember not "liking" Thanksgiving food until high school at least.  I do remember loving the hustle and bustle of watching my Mom prepare the house and do the cooking, making everything "just so."  But I do understand the fact that my kids aren't interested in the food (their "selective eating" is something I take full responsibility for, BTW, something I will discuss in a Super Sunday Series Post sometime soon).

But let's get to what they think they want, not just what Mommy knows they need.  What do they THINK they want?  Treats!  No school!  Goodies!  Presents!  Catalogs in the mail!  Sugar!  Toys!  No naps!  PRESENTS!  Have I missed anything here?  Let me know if I have. 

So not only do we have this change in the routine (and all kids need routine consistency, but gifted kids REALLY need routine consistency - REALLY, REALLY need it - at least mine do), but we have this terrible dichotomy that gets created between ME and THEM.  I want to give thanks for our many blessings and celebrate this entire holiday season in a reflective way that says "we are so blessed."

And they turn into seemingly thankless creatures who get pulled into the vortex of "all things goody" instead of "all things good." 

I get embarassed by reactions to presents and overwrought kids because they just can't handle all of the new, heightened activities and expectations.   It makes me M-A-D at them for acting like, well, children.  And I get mad at myself for getting mad at them!  It makes me feel like a failure as a mother for not being able to instill gratitude and unselfishness in my children.

Enter Parenting the School Years December Issue with one little ol' article titled "Raising Grateful Kids."

Missy's Solution. 

Here is the quote, thank you SO much Patty Onderko, for this article:
Vicki Hoefle, director of Parenting on Track, a parent-education program based in East Middlebury, VT (and the mother of five teenagers), concurs:  "As nice as it is to think about having a five-year-old who appreciates and shows gratitude for everything, the truth is, parents can feel successful if they raise a thirty-five year old who embodies that grateful spirit."

You know, it seems so simple, when you read that sentence.  Every positive step we take right now, no matter how unheard it may seem, has an impact on their future, their adulthood. 

I am so thankful for this quote coming at just the right time of year for me.  Yesterday the kids were, off and on, thankless, bickering . . . children.  And their inability to shift expectations with the looming holiday season made me feel  . . . frustrated. 

But instilling values in our children, it's a parent's life work, and it can be an incremental 2 steps forward, 1 step backward process.  It doesn't happen because we snap our fingers and want it to happen.  Delayed gratification doesn't work that way.

We all love our children so much.  The trick, the challenge, is loving them enough to make the tough choices throughout their lives to help them be better kids, and more importantly, better adults. 

As far as OUR holiday rituals - we give them presents, we always do!  But we will also focus on the things better than presents - family, quality time, charity, gift giving

Tune in Saturday.  I'll share MY letter to Santa this year.  We all want a little sumthin' in this life, right?  Not just the kiddies.  :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Zoo trip = Much love

It's been one of those days where you want to eat your kids for the cuteness.  Good thing too - I'm sure there will be enough "ENOUGH!" moments in the next few days that getting a day like today in the "bank" is a good thing. 

We had Oldest's Fall Feast today - here's some love being shared.  Note the "full of brownie" mouths.

After nap, the zoo.  Ahhhh, the zoo. 

One of our Family Favorites.  Wildlights at the Zoo?  REALLY one of our family favorites.  The lights, the dark, the animals, Santa.  Truly one of the most fun things we do during the holidays.   Did ya know the Columbus Zoo has been rated #1 in the country by USA travel?  Jack Hanna rocks, and so does his zoo. 

You know what else is awesome about the zoo?  Pictures with Santa and "Frosty." 

And last, but not least, pictures with Santa, Youngest style, showing off her new "smile with your teeth" smile.  Priceless stuff. 
Good luck with cooking and traveling today. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Inappropriate Testing

Saw this article about gifted testing for Kindergarten at the More Child's blog.  She titled her post,  "File Under - What have we come to?" 

And boy is she right. 

Why is this so appalling, though?  I took classes for SAT preperation, I took classes for LSAT preparation (Law School Aptitude Test).  That was ok, wasn't it?  It was my parents giving me the best possible edge to succeed, score higher, and therefore increase my chances of acceptance at the school of my choice.  Taking these classes built upon skills I'd already been (supposedly) learning in high school and college and yes, they did give sample tests, practice tests and tricks (yes, tricks!) for successful completion of the test. 

Why do I find that more palatable than classes for 4 year olds to gain entrance to Gifted Schools?

I have a couple of reasons.

First, Oldest didn't study for her IQ test.  That would have been ludicrous.  She either had a high IQ or she had a normal-range IQ.  It would have never crossed my mind to put her through testing before the test.  As a matter of fact, there was one section where she breezed through so quickly and eerily I could tell the Doctor was a little weirded out.  She would answer in this robotic-like monotone and they were all right.  Then the Doctor showed her a picture of an ambulance and she couldn't answer it. 

The Doctor actually turned to me (against policy to talk to M-O-M while in the middle of the test) and said, "Can she really not know this?"  I just shrugged - no WAY I was skewing the results after 2 hours over one question.  And she really didn't know, I could tell by her reaction!  She had been correctly naming what month was missing in a sequence that left a month out of the middle of the sequence, then had no clue that the picture was an ambulance. 

Point?  They either know it or they don't - you can't MAKE them gifted, just by drilling them on test styles.  IQ can fluctuate 20 points at any given time in a person's life, sure, but being "taught" how to take the test won't raise your kid's level of giftedness, it will just get him into a situation that maybe is not right for him.  And take away someone else's chance who maybe desperately needs to be there.

The other reason I'm bugged is what I hammer on over here at Gifts 2 Love all the time.  The social and emotional aspect of giftedness.  Gifted children, all children, are whole persons, small human beings, who don't deserve to be forced into a box where they might not fit.  They need development on so many more levels than academics and cannot be considered little machines who must pass a test at all costs.  Especially if that cost is their emotional well-being. 

And really, it just sickens me that there are companies out there exploiting a parent's desire to have a super-smart kid.  But it sickens me more that parents would exploit their kids and cheat the system and other, more qualified kids just to get an advantage for their own child. 

But this story isn't new, is it?  Parents have been doing this for years to their kids.  Sports, musical talent, acting skills, just to name a few.  This is just a new way for the same old song and dance of greed and exploitation. 

Sickening, I say.  Many of us out here struggle every day to make sure our gifted kids' needs are met, while others cheat the system. 

Sickening.  Thanks, The More Child, for your post.  Keeping informed is always good, no matter how appalling. 

Tell me what you all think of this article and the issue it raises.  Feel free to tell me I'm full of hot air - I might be!  Wouldn't be the first time . . . ;)

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm Comin' Out and other Updates Over Here

When you read the title, make sure you sing it Diana Ross style.  The link should help get your groove on this morning. 

For several reasons, I'm removing a wee bit o'my anonymity. 
  1. It's kind of a pain to keep my real name out of things.  I don't feel like ME.  Kinda like when I went to college and tried to become Melissa b/c I thought that sounded more academic.  Then I wouldn't answer to Melissa, making myself seem a little slow on the updraw, if you know what I mean. 
  2. I am already "out" on NaBloPoMo and Blog Frog.  Oops.  Still working out my "technical education" with blogging.
  3. I might have something fun and exciting in the works, which will require a little less anonymity for me.  But mum's the word for now. 
So check out my profile!  Real name, real town, and that's pretty much it.  A girl's gotta have limits, doesn't she?  Plus I gussied up my title a little - prettied up the colors.  What I REALLY want is a pretty picture like I see on some of you other awesome blogs out there.  Baby steps, baby steps.

Anyhoo, Saturday turned out pretty well after its totally awesome, couldn't get any better start.  Why, you ask?  Buckeyes beat Michigan.  That's pretty much it. 

Kidding.  We went to a fun theme party for the game.  Bacon.  Yes, bacon.  Why?  I know not, but I can say Youngest ate maybe 10 pieces and didn't even throw up!  People were calling her the party animal.  I think we're just going to start calling her the Carnivore. 

At the party, they served bacon, bacon cinnamon rolls, bacon and eggs, BLTs, bacon hash browns, fatback, bacon brownies, chocolate covered bacon.  Odd?  Yes, but oddly fascinating and fun too.  Did I mention the Buckeyes won, so everything else is acceptable?

Just so ya know, I didn't start my "life" in Columbus as a Buckeye fan.  I didn't even go to Ohio State.  Too big for little ol' moi.  But at some point, fan-dom just happens here.  I'm no die hard.  I don't think putting my children in the same outfit every week means they'll win.  I've never tailgated or even gone to a game.  Hello?  Porta-potties not my thang!  I don't "bleed scarlet and gray," as the saying goes around here.

But I do like them now.  I follow them.  I plan fall events around them - have to or else no one will come on  game days.  My brother in law just got married and picked an away, non-Big 10 game to celebrate the life long commitment of marriage.  The MOMENT the groomsmen walked back down the aisle at the end, guess how many were checking their phones for the score?  Yes, pretty much all of them.  That, I don't get. 

So what about you?  Do you live in a college town that eats, sleeps, breathes football or basketball?  How is it different from pro sports?  Is it? 

Happy Monday - my favorite day of the week! 

Finally signing off as Missy instead of Miss E - "contented sigh" of relief  :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Little Secrets on a Saturday Morning

I had a great post planned for this morning about little things I do around the house that no one notices.  I was even thinking about "outing" myself a little bit.  At least using my real name and state.  I'm getting kind of tired of keeping up with the anonymity.  At least with myself - it's worth it for the kiddies.  To me. 

But now it's a post, once again, about my fatigue on a Saturday morning.  It's starting to feel like this:

Let's say everyone starts the day with their "happiness dial" at a certain number - say 100.  I like to make things easy that way.  When it comes to math at least.  I have a huge "thing" about doing things in multiples of 5, actually, but I digress.

Back to starting your day at 100.  Throughout the day, your dial rotates back and forth.  The kids bickering over breakfast might dial it back to 90 because they are ANNOYING YOU.  But then on the way to school you hear Party in the USA by little ol'Miley and that dials it up to 110, because hearing your sweeties sing it full blast is so stinkin' CUTE.

By the end of the day, on a great day, you might be at 150.  Say, Thanksgiving night after successfully pulling it off for the first time and receiving tons of compliments (but I'm not stressed!).  At the end of a particularly difficult day, you might be at a 50.  Say, the night before Thanksgiving because you're worried you won't pull it off for the first time (again, no worries here!).

You get it?  The target number for contentment is 100 in my little example.  Anything higher is bonus, anything lower means it's been a bit o' a bad day. 

For the past 3 or 4 Saturdays (I can't pin it down because they are literally running together at this point) I feel like I'm starting my day at a 50. 

This puppy, Lilly, seems to have a real propensity for hours long overnight crying on Friday nights.  Last night it was due to several bouts of diarrhea in the bathroom.  Last week it was because Husband fell asleep on the couch and she could smell him.  The week before that, I don't know.  I do know the week before that was the final night I got up with her because I couldn't take it anymore. 

Obviously, somethin' different's happenin' on the weekends that is messing her, and therefore moi, up.  In the middle of the night, listening to her, I am so furious, I'd put the dial on a 10 - it's that bad.  By morning, I'm probably up to a 50.  Not happy.  Today it's probably starting at a 40 due to the mess I got to clean up in the bathroom as well.

So I can look at this optimistically and pessimistically, right?

Optimist's approach - I have no place to go but up.  It can only get better. 

Pessimist's approach - There's no way I can get to maximum contentment on the dial (100), let alone really happy (>100), when I'm starting at a 40. 

What should I choose, friends?  Today's the BIG GAME in our college town.  The game many people wait for every year.  In a very short time, we're supposed to go to a 100 person driveway party, featuring a band.  We're bringing doughnuts.  And I'm listening to Youngest sing "Gwinkle, Gwinkle wittle star" through the monitor as I finish this, rather than waking up crying. 

Yes, I agree.  MUST go the optimist's route.  "We" have a game to win today.  :)

Super Sunday Series tomorrow - tips and tricks on dealing with your little perfectionists, or your own perfectionism. 

Have a great Saturday.  Go Team!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Stone Soup Feast

Youngest's class had the Annual Stone Soup Feast yesterday.  Everyone familiar with the story

I especially love the moral - "By working together, everyone contributing what they can, a greater good can be achieved." 

Youngest's teacher takes the theme of the story and asks everyone to bring a vegetable to class the day before the feast. That night she makes soup, stone and all, and serves it to her students and their families the next morning.

It's been 5 years since I partook in the Stone Soup Feast with Youngest's teacher.  The last time was when Oldest was 2 years old.  And truthfully, I thought it strange that the teacher was doing such an odd thing at 10am in the morning with her students.  I was so green, not in the environmental way, then. 

I didn't yet know that community, respect and greater good are all Montessori tenets. 

As the years have passed, I've learned a lot.  About Montessori, about the Stone Soup Feast (finally read it), about what we (as in our family) really, really want our children to learn about life. 

The first time around, I looked at Oldest's school time as a way for ME to get a break (I still do like that), as a way for the teacher to be completely impressed with Oldest like I was (typical first/only child issue I think many of us share, especially when they are very young - we want everyone to see how "perfect" they are).

I certainly didn't look at school as a way for children to become "whole," in the sense that they are thinking, caring, respectful self-starters, who are expected to be responsible for themselves and their actions.  Productive members of society in that they make the world a better place.

I thought the Feast was silly, then.  And looking around the room yesterday, I now see the profound and subtle way this teacher, year after year, trains her parents to be better parents.  How she plants the seeds in them that their children have so much more capacity than they ever thought possible.  Because, even at 2 years old, a child can start to learn that "by working together, everyone contributing what they can, a greater good can be achieved."

I've watched parents and their kids come and go from this particular classroom for 5 years now.  I wonder how many this teacher has successfully planted the seed in - the seed of community, rather than the current culture we find everywhere - the culture of ME. 

She's a special woman, this teacher.  She has changed the lives of so many children and their parents.  I don't know that she has any idea how far-reaching her influence has gone.  I hope that she does.  I am so thankful that she was MY first experience with a teacher, from the parent perspective.  Our entire parenting philosophy began its formation with what she taught us.  She deserves much greater recognition than this blog. 

And having Youngest in her classroom again after 5 years?  It's kinda like coming home. 


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Puppies - Do They Reek or Rock?

**edited - I can't BELIEVE I spelled puppies wrong in the title this morning!  Signed, Really do know how to spell, just tired  :)

We've had the Puppy for one month.  In honor of her, I'm making a list (and checking it twice) about the Reasons Puppy Rocks and the Reasons Puppy Reeks.

Puppy Reeks
  1. I've lost 100 hours of productivity.  Can't get more annoying than that.
  2. I've lost around 60 hours of sleep.  So it actually can get more annoying than that.
  3. Teaching a 2 year old not to hit, kick, sit on or ride a 2 pound animal is a nightmare difficult.
  4. Teaching a 7 year old not to yell and scream at 2 year old over #3 is also a nightmare difficult.
  5. She kind of looks like a rat.  Especially when wet.
  6. Cleaning up puppy accidents is not my idea of a good time.
  7. Looks like besides #5 (though you never know what they're going to look like), I could have gone ahead and had that third child since the puppy hasn't been much easier.  A child would have at least given me 9 months to get my affairs in order and emotionally prepare.
  8. Parasites aren't fun to deal with.  They came along for the ride.
Puppy Rocks
  1. She's finally sleeping through the night, if 10:30-5:30 counts.  To say I'm not a morning person is an understatement.  As a matter of fact, I consider 5:30 am to be night. 
  2. The kids love her and she will teach them many, many lessons about responsibility.
  3. She's pretty cute, for a fluffy white rat.  I DID really love Templeton from Charlotte's Web.  In a gross, gluttonous kind of way.
  4. She's making it outside to do her business 75% of the time.  In a month, I guess that's acceptable.
  5. Puppy cuddles are pretty yummy.
  6. The parasites are gone and with them, the loose bowels.  HURRAY, me. 
Looks like the Reeks outweigh the Rocks.  BUT, based on #2 of the Rocks, we'll keep her.  I'm a sucker that way.  ;)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lucky 7

My first "tagging!"  Thanks to Jen at Laughing at Chaos, who tagged me a few days ago as part of NaBloPoMo. Just a way to take a break from daily blogging for a month (say, in case I was at a meeting until 9:30pm last night and came home with no brain left, watching TV like a zombie instead of writing a new post) if necessary.

So here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So here I go.
Sadly, I don't think I have 7 blogging friends yet to "tag."  Pathetic little ol' me, huh?  I've come up with 4. 
1. My first career was as a Public Defender.  Public Defense has daily surprises and gives one a multi-faceted skill set.  Interestingly, it prepared me for being a mother, though I didn't realize it at the time.  And my own kids don't smell like booze, which is a nice bonus.
2. In college, I skydived.  The summer after college, I ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.  Both times I couldn't get to a phone for a LONG time to call my parents and I nearly drove them to apoplexy waiting to know if I survived.  I'm guessing karma's going to give me a good "nip" with this one and my kids will do something, someday just as terrifying for THEIR Mommy.
3. I need to drive to places in a circle.  Instead of straight line to and from, I like to take two different routes to make a circle upon completion.  I'm kind of embarassed to admit this.
4. I really like the Wiggles, but I miss Greg.  Oddly, I'm proud to share this. 
5. I've seen Our Lady Peace in concert 9 times as of the end of last month.  Husband's seen them 11.  I really like Our Lady Peace.  Really.  Like.  Them. 
6.  I keep my Facebook account separate from this one.  I wonder how long this can last?
7. My new career is community volunteer (turned blogger, now).  It's extraordinarily hard for me to say no to a worthy (IMO) volunteer activity.

Here are my "peeps:"
Easter - Owl in the Library
Ann - Ms Theophilus
Terri - Gifted and Talented Society
Beverly - 1-2-3 Get Organized

Tomorrow, an update on that puppy of ours. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Emergency Room, Anyone?

My life has become a comedy or errors, as a good friend mentioned yesterday, BEFORE this happened.  Either that, or God's reminding me what we REALLY need to be thankful for.  Safe, healthy children.

Youngest fell into one of our window wells yesterday on the way to the car to pick up Oldest from school.  She cracked her head on a cinder block as she tumbled, truly somersaulted into it.  It's a pretty deep well for a two year old, apparently. 

How did she do it, you ask?  I'm pretty sure she was showing me her newest move, the "dancy pants," where she wiggle walks while saying "I'm dancy pants, I'm dancy pants."  It all kind of blurs together though, one minute she was walking to the car, the next she was tumbling into the window well.

So she's fine.  I'll just get that out of the way.  3 stitches to the back of the head, but fine.  You can see by the pictures below that she loved every minute of her little trippy-poo to the ER.  And I have to say she was the bravest girl EVER.  Didn't squirm ONCE when getting her stitches (to the back of the head, no less, so they basically held her face down on the table for about 5 minutes to do it). 

Oldest, after getting over her terror that her sister was going to die (the blood on my sweater - cashmere - of course!  I would ruin nothing less), handled herself quite well too.  Stellar, actually. 

Me?  I'm pretty good about the injury.  It was a freak thing and these things happen, I know!  What I'm most freaked out about is their exposure to H1N1 for the 3 hours we were there.  I'm pretty sure we were 3 of 75 patients in the ER there for something besides Swine Flu.  Shocking, really.  Aren't people reading the paper where it says to stay home unless it's serious? 

I mean maybe they all were serious.  I don't know.  I just really, REALLY wished I hadn't brought them into such a hotbed of germs as the bleeding subsided and I'm thinking I overreacted and she really didn't need to go to the ER.  I was even thinking up t-shirts I could make for us:

My Kids Came to Children's Hospital
for Stitches and All They Got was
this Lousy Swine Flu

I thought it was catchy, even if a little off-color.  But when people are surrounding you with fevers, hacking and barfing from a pandemic, sometimes a little levity is what gets you through. 

So anyway.  We FINALLY made our way to a doctor and the minor walk down the hall broke it back open, which of course led to VINDICATION for MAMMA!  I DID make the right decision after all!  Plus, I got these great pics - I mean seriously, can it get any cuter?

This was her waiting for the local anesthetic to kick in.  Now, maybe the t-shirt will read:

We went to Children's for Stitches
and Came Home with
H1N1, Stitches, AND
this Awesome Mummy Wrap!

People, I'm not making light of any of this because I'm callous.  It's my way of clinging to the narrow thread of composure I grabbed when I pulled Youngest away from my body and saw the blood all over my shirt and hers. 

This is my second What If X Had Happened with a child in a little over 48 hours.   Check out Monday's post to see my what if with Oldest.  I'm feeling extraordinarily more thankful tonight than I ever thought possible when I wrote that (now laughable) post about Thankfulness Saturday morning. 

Life is good.  Life is good.  Life is good.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Saturday Full of "Fun" Surprises

It's pretty funny that I wrote the "I'm going to be thankful no matter what" post at 6am Saturday morning.  Sometimes you just never know, do you?

Wanna know what happened Saturday?

The day started off GREAT.  Spent a few moments with the kiddos before Husband took them on a two hour jaunt to Panera, then to the playground.  I accomplished MUCH and felt productive and ready to single mom-it the rest of the day while Husband tailgated.

Then I went upstairs to change and voila!  Our hamster had died during the night.  Or so I thought.  I debated hiding her and just telling Oldest that she'd escaped, but decided, "No, I have these crazy standards about honesty, gotta tell her."

They came home and I dropped the bomb.  As tactfully as I could.  Of course there were many tears.  She wanted to help bury her, which I'm fine with, so we went up to get her.  I wrapped her in a paper towel to take downstairs and the towel started moving!  OMG, seriously?

So we opened the towel up and watched her, discovering that she wasn't dead YET, just seriously ill.  I called the vet (had to give it due diligence, right?).  And our vet only handles cats and dogs.  So we were on our own.   For 30 minutes, she convulsed every minute or so, finally dying after a large, extended gasp. Yes, that kind of thing really does happen. 

As if it wasn't sad enough to tell Oldest her hamster died.  Then we had the false hope of her not being dead, maybe getting revived and then finally the shock of watching her die right in front of our eyes.  Probably not one of my top 100 ways to spend a Saturday morning.

So we went around the table and said what we liked about Scutter the Hamster:

Oldest - "I liked that she was my own, my first real pet."  Crying all the while.
Husband - "I liked the name you gave her, Oldest."
Youngest - "I wiked howlding her, Scutter."
Miss E - "I liked how tame she was." (Even if she tried to escape loudly and nightly, which is what I think killed her - swallowing the twist tie we used to secure the cage door that she could open by rocking her body - could I make this up?)

We buried her in the back yard with the class turtle who died in our care over the summer.  Ugh.

Next up?  That movie theatre birthday party.  I gave Oldest a free pass to stay home, but she thought it would help her get her mind off Scutter.  She was right of course. 

I have to cross one of my boundaries to say this - but I have to, I just have to.  IT WAS THE BIRTHDAY PARTY FROM HELL. 

Why is this a boundary, you ask?  When I eventually, maybe, go public with this blog to my local friends and acquaintances (a few know now, but not many), I really don't want to slam a local event that people can figure out exactly what and who I'm talking about.  I just don't want to hurt people's feelings that way.

But I have to take my chances.  That bad. 

The party started at 1pm.  Guess what time the movie started?  1:45 or 2, right?  WRONG!  Try 2:30

Guess how many activities the kids were entertained with for that 90 minute lull? 

Pizza and cupcakes.  That's IT.  IT I SAY!  8 children in a room with the most obnoxious acoustics I've EVER heard.  Screaming like banshees, jumping on tables, tackling each other, playing "get the robot monster," hitting each other, whacking each other with balloons.  It was so bad, it could have been a movie spoof.  Screaming like BANSHEES, I tell you.  Youngest spent the first 1/2 hour wrapped like cling wrap around my midsection it was so loud.

You can imagine my utter despair, knowing Oldest's track record at birthday parties.  But guess what?  She persevered.  She maintained.  She actually said, and I practically wrote it down at the place so I could frame it and hang it on my wall for challenging days - when asked why she wasn't joining in the "fun," she said, "You guys are being completely out of control and it really doesn't look fun to me.  I'm sitting this out."  OMG.  OMG.  Knock me over with a feather. 

And truth be told, there were only 2-3 kids completely skewing the whole event, the rest were moderately in control.  And sadly, the ringleader of Poor Behavior's mother was right there, so who could discipline her when her mother wouldn't?  Anybody have that problem?  THAT'S one of my top 2 of difficult playdates (or any non-school child interaction) - when the other parent won't be a parent.

So it comes time to leave the party room and head to the theatre.  Youngest and I walk her right up to the theatre door because I'm (not) a helicopter parent, say goodbye, we'll see her after the movie's over.  Head out to the car.

Turn back toward the theatre as I'm putting Youngest in the car and what did I see?  I couldn't make this up if I tried - now it's becoming a horror movie!  The two chaperones for the party were taking the presents and party supplies out to their car.  The kids were ALONE in the theatre! 


See?  Sometimes being a helicopter parent isn't such a bad idea.  (Though I found out later that the mother referenced above was inside with them, at the time, I didn't know this)

I couldn't stop myself - I walked over and said, "you two ARE chaperoning into the theatre, aren't you?  I mean, it's 8 girls under 10, you know."  They assured me they were just out of the theatre for a minute (which is all it takes for disaster to strike, ladies), but were heading right back in. 

I spent the next 110 minutes aging in LIGHT years, people!  But she came out in one piece.  Thank God. 

Other than that?  Nothing major, except day 3 of no nap from Youngest.  Insert all of the things you know happen when a toddler has a cold AND hasn't napped for 3 days.  Yep, they all happened.

Oh.  And our puppy cried for an hour from 3:30 to 4:30 in the morning. 

Just a day in the life of a Thankful Mom, you know!  BUT it could have been worse, much, much, much worse (like it could have been the puppy who died and I can't even go into what COULD have happened at "just a minute" of unchaperoned children in a darkened movie theatre), so I really was still thankful at the end of the day.  Maybe not so much by 4:30 in the morning though.  ;)

Life is full of fun surprises, but today's Monday and I love Mondays.  Seriously.  So much more structure than the weekend.  Right, Lauging at Chaos?  Plus it's grocery day - my fave.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Giving Thanks a Little Early

NaBloPoMo's pretty tough on the weekends, isn't it? 

No big revelations about life today hidden in pennies.  Just the usual:

  • Birthday party for Oldest at a movie theatre and that freaks me out.  I don't think I'm ready to leave her with one parent and I don't know how many kids in a darkened theatre.  Youngest and I will be right outside the door pumpkin, don't you worry.  Signed, Not a Helicopter Parent, Swear!

  • Youngest - no nap for two days and she's sleeping for S**T at night due to her pacifier addiction and stuffed up nose.  Vaporizer isn't helping.  Me tired. 

  • Husband's tailgating today - probably about 8 hours worth - this might be annoying except he's taking the girls for a two hour morning jaunt while mommy does the things I haven't done during two days of no naps.  Like eat bonbons.  Hurray for me!  Thanks to him!

  • We had date night last night.  Even if Youngest cried when we left, saying "please don't go to dinner wiffout me, Mommy," it was/is/will always be one of the most important things we do.

  • 16 shows are logged on the DVR right now - how and when does one catch up with that?  January?

  • I haven't started any of my 4 remaining books to reach my lowest level threshold for the year yet.  I'm sure it will be easier if I put it off a little longer.

  • I haven't even started the perfectionism post for tomorrow.  Talk about going to deadline.  I don't work that way.  I hope it doesn't reek.

Some people don't have STUFF like this in their lives.  I am thankful I do.  I am blessed.  No matter what crazy/zany/ACK! moments today brings.  I am thankful.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Principle of the Matter

Remember the lunch I cried about on Sunday?  The letter I wrote to California Girl afterward?  Who, by the way, still loves me too after reading my world-wide post about her.  I was worried, you never know how someone's going to react when you don't know what they think of blogging, you know. 

Anyhoo, my bill came to $5.72 that day.  No, we didn't eat at McDonald's, if you are wondering.  We ate at a lovely brunch spot here in town, I just had the liquid variety of lunch.  My fam and I had previous lunch plans, I ate with them, showed up a little late and joined the lovely group of ladies over their bloody marys.  And because I never say no to a Sunday afternoon bloody mary (all once every 365 days it happens), that's what I had.  Costing $5.72. 

Guess what my change was?  I gave him a $20.  Go on . . . guess!  No?

Ok, I'll tell ya.  I received $14.25 in change.  Pretty close, right? 

WHY would I waste a post about this? 

Because it wasn't in my favor!  I've never seen that at a restaurant.  I've seen recent trends where restaurants don't use pennies because they're "obsolete."  And I guess I have to say that until they are no longer part of our currency system, they are not obsolete.  Until places stop charging $X.99 for something, the penny is still in circulation.   Until I stop gathering my change quarterly and come up with enough pennies to equal $5.00, which ain't peanuts to a kid, then the penny is not obsolete.

But I digress.  I have received incorrect change in this manner before, but it's always been to my favor.  So, if this had been in my favor, I "should have" received $14.30 in change, right?  The proper change for my bill would be $14.28, so if they don't use pennies at this location, then I should have been given the extra two cents, rather than them keeping the extra three cents owed me.

Seems like I'm making a big deal over that one cent difference, doesn't it?  And in a way I am.  But here's where I do my GROSSLY LARGE expansion to a societal issue.  In case you haven't noticed, we're becoming a little more rude, a little less civilized with each other.  Maybe it's partly because we hide behind the anonymity of social media.  Maybe we "say" things over the internet at the safety of our own computer, alone in our homes that we wouldn't necessarily say in public discourse.  That's the whole reason I started this blog - look at my profile!  I wanted a place where I could "talk" about the things that I can't talk about anyplace else.

Does that make ME rude?  I don't think so, but I do think that my incorrect change scenario is evidence of this rude society.  I didn't speak up and say something to him because I didn't want to look like a whack job asking to have the correct change, when it amounted to a three cent difference.  So instead of saying it to him and being done with it, I''ve been ruminating about it for a few days and am now "venting" about it here, alone, in my office, where the chance of confrontation with him is no longer there. 

Had I held him to the standard we should all expect - which is, call me crazy, to rightfully expect to receive the correct change when I pay for something with cash, then maybe it would prevent him from doing it in the future to another customer.  Maybe it would prevent him from thinking it's perfectly fine to shortchange a customer because "all we're talking about here is three cents." 

That's what I do with my kids - I hold them to certain standards of honesty and civility and respect.  I would NEVER tell them it's ok to settle for something less than what's honest.  Except for Santa, Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy, my three exceptions.  Which does haunt me, don't think it doesn't.  I've debated . . . but I always come back to the magic of childhood outweighing the truth of those "people."

Back to the issue.  The thing is, I really like this place - it's one of the nicest places in town here.  I don't WANT to feel shortchanged by them. 

Most people woudn't care a LICK about this, I know.  And I'm sure I have some readers right now wondering why on Earth I'm so worked up about three cents?

I'll tell you why - it's something I heard from my parents my WHOLE life and I never understood it growing up.  It's not something that I think you GET until you're a grown-up.  But it's the PRINCIPLE OF THE MATTER.  It has to be in ALL-CAPS because that's how I remember my parents saying it to me. 

"Miss E, you never cheat, even a little bit, because it's the PRINCIPLE OF THE MATTER, not the fact that it's 'minor' cheating."

"Miss E, you never keep extra change from someone, even if it's not a big deal because it's the PRINCIPLE OF THE MATTER."

"Miss E, we are returning the dirty, worn down arm missing Star Wars figure you brought home from the church playroom today.  You can't keep it, even if it's a hunk o'junk because it's the PRINCIPLE OF THE MATTER.  You took something that wasn't rightfully yours."

It's just not OK to think that because something is a small transgression, it's not a transgression.  Because it has to do with, say it with me now, the PRINCIPLE OF THE MATTER, not the diminutive size of the transgression. 

I wish more people felt this crazy notion, PRINCIPLES, was more important today.  It's hard feeling like a salmon swimming upstream against the tide of "IT'S NO BIG DEAL" when you're trying to raise your kids with values and ethics.  But I'll keep trying.  Our future's at stake.  And I thank my parents for drilling THIS Principle into my moral fiber. 

I Can't Believe I'm This Worked Up Over a Lousy Three Cents

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why Husband's Family Finds Me Strange

As promised, here is the Thanksgiving ramp-up email I sent my in-laws over the weekend.  They're a pretty quiet group (in that they don't back-stab, gossip or call people on the carpet for transgressions - when it comes to sports, however, they bring new definition to the word LOUD).  Sometimes I wonder if they really think I'm a few hours shy of a cooked turkey.   This is me trying to be funny about my terror over attempting to pull off T-giving for the first time with no time to prepare.  Maybe I'll write a post about what that feels like really.  Maybe I'll ask for help from all of you. 

Read on:

Gobble, gobble everyone!

First, thank you for your prompt replies to the voting. As you know, it concluded yesterday. I am pleased to announce the results. By overwhelming majority (unlike the casino issue), FRIDAY is the winner. We had 10 adult voters - 8 for Friday, 2 for Thursday but with the ability to do Friday and 2 people who failed to vote because they are lost in the Bermuda triangle. I HOPE they find their way back by T-giving. And I hope you two crazy kids had fun!

I think I will plan dinner for 4ish pm. You are welcome to come any time that day, as long as it's after 3pm. Just kidding. Anytime after noon is fine. Remember, this is Miss E's first fully prepared Thanksgiving meal (and Husband is SOOO excited to carve his first bird, which he is learning about as he reads this) , so let's plan on being flexible about that 4pm stuff. If I, for example, realize at 8am that the turkey isn't thawed, we might need to push it back a day or so. :) Plus, if there's any wine sipping while relaxedly cooking all day, that might slow things down too.

And, HERE are your assignments! Enjoy. I know we can't wait!

AJ - rolls, cranberry salad and more wit like in that email. I wouldn't thumb my nose at toffee either . . .

CJ - cheesy corn - I'm not sure if this is a play on words about a certain personality type or a real dish, but look forward to learning the answer

PC - green bean casserole and Son! The girls are obssessed with him - Youngest woke up crying this morning that he was gone. You can bring Daughter too, but she can only have 2 slices of turkey (she's only 4 months old, before anyone comments on my rudeness - it's WIT - she's not "eating" yet).

JR - drink makings for the magic punch - let me know if you want me to get the sherbert. Maybe a couple of other drink choices too? I will get the alcohol. I'm so nice that way. Your little darlings, too, of course!

DR - can you do pies (Mmmmm, Donkey LIKE pie), paper plates for dessert and cups? We can talk about whether you have any other must-dos that you like.

Miss E and H - turkey, dressing, potatoes, sweet potato casserole, gravy, and some surprises b/c that's how we roll here.

PLUS - somebody needs to bring party games! Husband's not going to be the sole provider of entertainment you know. He has boundaries. That I'm sure I'm crossing in this email repeatedly. ;) But he didn't marry me b/c I was boring, did he?

I will let the cat out of the bag now that we have our new dining room table! Our chairs still leave a little to be desired, and I think even in its extended form, it's going to seat 10 comfortably, so we might have to draw straws to see what Big Boy or Girl gets to join the kid's table. Or better, have a World's Strongest In-Law contest.

The Christmas gifting poll, you ask? Seems like everyone is OK to give up the sibling exchange and everyone likes just buying for godchildren. And people don't want to expand to all children. We can finalize that day. Over drinks.

Allrighty then! I think that covers it. Looks like I'm already on the crazy train as I read through this, which tells me THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF YEAR IS ALREADY HERE!

20 days, baby, 20 days!

Oh, and if people want to do overnights Th/Fr or Fr/Sa, please contact ASAP for coordination.

Much love. 

Miss E

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Step in the Right Direction?

Monday, I was called to school unexpectedly.  I love it when the teacher starts by saying, "She's fine."  Because we know there's a "but X happened" coming when they begin that way, don't we? 

I haven't received a call since Kindergarten.  And while I'm not going to give the basis behind the call (I really DO have boundaries with this blog - swear!), I CAN talk about the emotions it brought out of me.

I expected her to be in a full meltdown.  I expected a litany of "I'm so stupids."  I expected to need to talk to the teacher about how to transition her back into class without major drama after we took care of our business.  I expected her to scream "LEAVE ME ALONE" at her sister who was VERY concerned about why we were going to school and wanting to give her a "feel better" hug.  So empathetic, that one.

What I got was a calm, collected, composed child who, truthfully?  I didn't really know how to handle.  I'd been bracing myself for every other time I'd ever had to come to school in years past and was completely blindsided by this kid I discovered.

Wonderfully blindsided.  Drop me to my knees and make me want to sob blindsided.  With relief that she self-regulated?  Disappointment that she didn't need me to kiss away her hurt?  Heartbreak over my baby growing up? 

Probably all of the above.  I know I say it a lot, but the day to day minutiae - so hard.  So UGH.  The major milestones of independence, though - heartwrenching to Moms everywhere, I bet. 

This particular one, though, it's stuck with me.  Because of the last 30 seconds of our visit.  My newly composed Big Girl kept it together until we finished our business.  Then I said "I'm proud of you - how about a hug before you go back?"  She replied, "Sure Mommy.  Can you give Lilly (our puppy) a hug for me too?"  And THAT'S when she started crying.  That's when my Little Girl peaked back through the Big Girl we found when we arrived. 

Oldest and I, we've been through so much in these 7 short years of her life.  So many times I am so exasperated with her I could just scream.  And I sometimes do.  But Monday, I wished for a moment or two that she still needed me as much as she used to.   

Being needed feels pretty good, you know.  Sometimes it's hard to remember that the whole point of raising your kids right is to achieve moments like these. 

Moments where they take another step away from you - toward independence. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Copyrights and Licenses

I had my NaBloPoMo topic all prepared for today.  I even had it titled in draft mode.  Then instead of spending last night writing about that topic, I researched and copied code, drafted and edited my Copyright and Licensing widgets. 

I am happy it's accomplished and thank those of you for your great, GREAT advice last week.  I'm taking each piece of advice and implementing it in baby steps.  And thank goodness, it took me an hour to do what I wanted to do with Copyrights and Licenses! 

So today's post is, what do we call it during football season?  A punt?  Yes, today's post is a punt - making sure I'm meeting the 30 posts in 30 days challenge, but no brain left to write because I exhausted myself with copyrights instead. 

Tomorrow = better.  Promise.

But while you're here- take a looky-look at the bottom of my page and see my work from last night.  Tell me if I hit it or if I continue to earn the Blogging Buffoon award. 

And here's a cute picture from the weekend to make myself feel better about today's punt.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dear California Girl

I had the good fortune of spending a few hours with a dear friend yesterday.  She moved away last January - to California.  I miss her very much and thought I'd write her a letter, introducing this blog. 

Dear California Girl -

It made my day (week) seeing you yesterday, even if only for a short time.  You look great and for the most part it seems like California is agreeing with you nicely.  I'll bet if you were writing me this letter, you would say the same thing about me, right?  Because we do look good, both of us, and we had our "so happy to see each other" faces on today, didn't we?  And don't get me wrong - I AM happy, it just takes a visit with you to make me step back for a minute. 

Because the other truth is this - I miss you terribly and I cried the whole way home from lunch, wanting to run in the doors of my home like a teenager, sobbing to Husband over the void in my life since you left.  I know we were never connected at the hip, we didn't talk every single day, we didn't go out together with our husbands and we only went out a few times by ourselves that I can remember.  In many ways, we are very different people. 

So why is the void so great and the pain so much with you gone? 

You and I shared a connectedness over our daughters' friendship, over our parenting styles, over the values we try to instill in our children.  I considered you my Calgon Girl - the one you call when you need a "take me away from it all" moment with your children, your life, with the (sometimes) pressures of being a grown up all the time.  Because sometimes it's no fun. 

And YOU, while understanding completely, could always find the humor in any situation and make me feel so happy it was YOU I called.  Sadly, I haven't found that with anyone else yet since you left - as a matter of fact, I'm wondering if you can ever be replaced.  I have other friends, sure, just not ones that fill this particular niche where you were so outstanding.

I remember one time when I was letting Youngest cry it out over a nap, I called you and said, in tears, "Can I just talk to you for a little bit until I see if she's going to stop?"  And you dropped everything and stayed on the phone with me for 30 minutes, making me forget the wailing I was hearing upstairs.  I was so embarassed about crying on the phone like that and you reassured me that the only reason I was crying was 1) sleep deprivation and 2) it was winter and the first sunny day we'd had in 6 weeks - all of that unexpected sunshine finally let our pent up emotions flow.   Even though I wanted to cave and head up to get Youngest out of her crib you said, "NO!  Don't you even THINK about ruining the good job you've done already - she's almost there because of YOU!" 

I will never forget that conversation, ever.  You, with wit and empathy, let me know so many things:
  1. It's ok to cry.
  2. I was making the right decision about a child.
  3. Fatigue does scary things to people, but it's alright because the first year doesn't last forever.
  4. I was going to make it.
As much as I care about you, though, I would be lying if I said you are the only one I miss.  Oldest hasn't found a friend like your daughter yet either and it makes ME so sad.  She doesn't even realize it, I don't think.  That your daughter got her and still loved her anyway.  And was such a good influence on her, because of the way she's being raised by her totally awesome mother.  Plus the realization that my Youngest and your Youngest would be in the same class together if you were still here is, well, heartbreaking. 

So when you said yesterday that you thought about not calling people because you didn't want us to think we had to drop everything and come running, let me assure you - no matter how much I cry afterward over missing you, believe me, I will drop everything EVERY time. 

And what I didn't tell you yesterday is that not only did I start a blog (gasp!), but as I write this and think about why I miss you so much, it's becoming clear to me that I started the blog because of you.  Or because you're not here anymore - it's my way of chatting with cyber-land as if you and I were talking instead.

So you better start reading it!  There's no time zone issues with a blog - it's open 24/7.  :)

California Girl, thank you for being the kind of person who changes the lives of people you touch.  And THANK YOU for lunch today - it came at the perfect time and means so much. 

Your Sad Little Friend Miss E  :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Super Sunday Series - Week 2 - "You know your child is gifted when . . . "

Last week in the Super Sunday Series, I gave you the broad overview of "gifted kid traits." 

This week I promised to delve into some of the traits.  Bring it home a little, humanize it. 

Let's start with asynchronous development.  To me, this is one of the biggest hallmarks of gifted children, these huge GAPS in abilities.  In A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children, the authors say "intelligence and knowledge are simply not the same as emotional maturity, understanding, or wisdom."  Guide, pg. 122.  Further, they break it down into three categories:

  1. Emotional and intellectual maturity - where you "have the intellect of an older child, adolescent, or even an adult, but have age-appropriate emotional development.
  2. Asynchrony of abilities - saying the "brighter the child, the more widespread her abilities . . . it is common for a young gifted child to be frustrated that her fingers will not do what her mind wants them to do. 
  3. Interpersonal asynchrony - where the child "doesn't fit into the world around her."
Guide, pages, 122-123

Carol Fertig goes on to say the following about asynchronous development:
Asynchronous development is uneven development academically, physically, and/or emotionally.  A student might be a whiz kid at science, but can't throw a ball; or she may read years ahead of her classmates, but perform at grade level in math.
Raising a Gifted Child, Carol Fertig, Prufrock Press, 2009, pg. 32.  She also notes that asynchronous development is particularly difficult at the K-3 grade levels because these ages are not "mature enough for independent work."  Id. 

Maybe this is why many gifted programs don't start until 4th grade in elementary school?  Just a thought.

In our house, the biggest asynchrony we see is in the abilities, or #2 above.  Oldest couldn't write, at all, until between 4 and 5.  At school, she had mastered the alphabet and was starting on Easy Reader Books, but when she was asked to write her name, sometimes the tantrums she had would be so forceful that at minimum she would lose playground time - sometimes I got a call from school.  The teacher thought she was being stubborn - the truth was she just couldn't do it.  And that, as you gifted parents WELL know, is unacceptable to a gifted kid - it makes them self-destruct when they think they can't do something they should be able to do - especially at 4 when they don't yet have emotional maturity to handle it better, even if just a little bit. 

Her conferences are in two weeks. I'm cuirious to see how her math level and reading level compare. Last year, at mid-year, she was at 5th grade for reading and 1st grade for math. HUGE difference. I can't imagine if we had her in a public school, trying to get her language needs met, and I feel so much empathy for those of you who do have this struggle.

The other big one we see here is academic "age" being so much more advanced than emotional age.  Oldest, as I have mentioned, was completely computer proficient by age 4.  She could navigate her way through Google to "her" sites and get anywhere in any particular site she wanted - even before she could really read the stuff, she just had a good instinct with it. 

I completely take this for granted, by the way.  Two nights ago, she came to me crying in the middle of the night because she'd discovered a "movie so scary I can't even talk about it, Mommy" on the Kiki Strike website and it was haunting her at 3am.  I just assumed if she was reading Kiki Strike at school, then it wouldn't have "keep you awake" stuff at night on the website.  Because if something's on a site that she's allowed to go on, she will find it.  Period. 

Though she has all of these abilities, she has the emotional maturity of a 7 year old (sometimes younger, too, I suspect, depending on what's going on in our lives, time of year, etc).  Things she can handle reading because she can are not necessarily going to be things she can handle emotionally. 

And finally, "interpersonal asynchrony," where the child doesn't fit into the world around her.  We see this in certain venues - a club we belong to tends to be very rough for her in the summer.   She thinks very differently from the kids there and ends up in tears or fighting quite often.  She has no CLUE how to "play the game" socially.  And a lot of these kids, while nice, have a different level of Social Savvy that she doesn't have.

Her school environment is great for her - Montessori - it truly does have the potential to change the world, one child at a time.  Plus her fellow Suzuki kids tend to be on the same playing field as her.  It's amazing to see how seamlessly they blend together at the recitals when they don't even know each other - all age levels!  So different from other places we go where she doesn't know people. 

So this is asynchronous development and it's longer than I thought.  I'm going to save my other planned "stuff" for down the road. 

Next week?  Perfectionism, though I've been avoiding it because I'm afraid I won't get it right. 

Get it?  Avoiding doing something for fear of failure?  Perfectionism in a nutshell.  We'll talk about the positives and negatives of it next week. 

See you! 
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