Not everybody worships Santa

Yeah, I know. I've been slacking.

We had a nice Christmas, even though it still just kinda rubs me wrong to do the whole Santa thing. With the exception of the divorce (meaning, I still feed the mutual breakup "mommy and daddy wanted it" line), I'm all about total honestly. Bean knows that hamburgers are made from cows (and how the cows die), I don't use cutesy pseudonyms for body part names, she thinks vultures are cool and wants to stop and look at the roadkill we pass. So to do the Santa thing just seems wrong to me. Yeah, yeah ... I know. I take it from all sides when I talk about this, so I get the 'magic of make believe' deal. And I'm not against her having a kickass imagination. This is the girl who told me the other day "Look, mommy - I'm cooking slime eels". So I encourage and foster her imagination all the time. But if she's able to pretend she's cooking slime eels (and, to take it a step or three further, to pretend they taste good), she's obviously got pretend and make believe covered.

I also had the unenviable task of finding Barbie-esque dolls that aren't overly sexualized. I settled on Wizards of Waverly Place dolls, which are dressed like girls dressed when I went to high school. That is - not like a skanky ho.

I'm anti-Barbie for my kids. Their dad isn't, but I won't buy them Barbie dolls. Bean asked me why and I said that I thought they sent the wrong message to girls. To which she responded (she always has a response) "Well, if I ever meet Barbie, I'll just tell her she needs to change her message to the right one, and then you can buy me a Barbie to play with."

Problem solved.

Like my anti-Santa tendencies, I catch flak on the anti-Barbie stance. I really don't fault anyone else if they're okay with Barbie for their young daughters. I'm not. That's all. I'm not judging anyone or saying they're a bad parent for doing so, it's just not what I want for my girls. To me, Barbie just sends the wrong message. I don't see her as an empowering female role model. Now if they had a normally-proportioned astrophysicist Barbie in jeans and a t-shirt, I'd be all over it.

But I digress.

Christmas: good. The girls were with me the whole week, and Christmas morning was fun. The liked their gifts, my folks came over for dinner, and it was a pretty good day, even if Miss O skipped her nap and there were points in time where I considered seeing if any of the neighbors would like to receive two kids for Christmas.

I've been struggling a bit with Bean. We had a few rough days last week and a few battles of will. On Sunday, after a way-too-early morning, I told the girls they needed to nap. Then gave the ultimatum: you're not coming out of your room without a nap. One would think that would get them to chill out and sleep (because they both needed it). But they ended up staying in their room all afternoon. I spent an hour or so trying to get them to sleep, then put up the child gate on the door and told them they could come out for dinner and bath time, but otherwise, they were staying in there.

And I actually stuck to it. They took it pretty well, as they have a ton of books in there and love to jump on the bed and act like fruit baskets. There were a couple requests to come out, but I just reminded them that they chose not to sleep, so they could come out to use the bathroom, to eat and to take a bath, but that was it.

And then Bean showed up pants-less in the living room to inform me she only came out to pee. Apparently, she's able to climb over that gate. But she chose to use her powers for good instead of evil, and only did it to use the potty.

If I survive single motherhood with these two, I'm fairly certain I'd be able to talk jumpers off bridges, and hostage-takers into violence free surrenders. Maybe I'll run for president on the platform: I survived single motherhood with The Bean - there's nothing that can scare me and no one that can outfox me.

Wordless Wednesday



I will remember you

Things I don't want to forget.

That Miss O says "I love you too mama" when I tell her I love her.

That she also says "Mama house" as an imperative, not as a question, when I pick her up from school. Followed by "No more dada." (Insert wry grin here - it's one of those 'kinda funny/kinda not' little divorce things.)

That she has an intense love for my boobs. And my hair. "Mama hair!" is a frequent request when she's upset, and I hear at least 2-3 "Mama boobs" a day. And she hasn't nursed in like 6 months. She just wants to see them, give them a pat, etc. It's strange and endearing all at once.

That Bean refers to the feathers on some horses' ankles as "frisky hair." Used in a sentence? "Clydesdales are my favorite horses because they have frisky hair on their feet."

A conversation with Bean from yesterday, re: my layered shirts:
Bean: Why do you wear two shirts?
Me: To keep warm. And also because this one is pretty low-cut. If I wore it alone, people would see my boobs. And no-one wants that. Except maybe Miss O.
Bean: I'd like to see them too. Your boobs are pretty spiffy.

(I swear. to. god. that happened. She uses spiffy a lot these days, and fortunately my boobs fall in the "spiffy" category. They could be in the "not very spiffy" category, along with bears. Why are bears not spiffy, you ask? They eat other animals. Somehow all feline carnivores escape the "not very spiffy" stigma, but bears are S.O.L.)

Bean, queuing up all the Schleich horses she can get her hands on at Target, plus one elephant and a great white shark: "Look mama. The elephant poked the shark in the brain with it's tusk and killed it. He was protecting the other plant-eaters."

Regarding why everything she asks for doesn't appear at her b-day party:
Bean - "How come I don't get what I want for my birthday?"
Mommy - "Well, sometimes people just get you what they think you'd like. It's not what you get that matters, it's that people care enough to get you anything at all."
Bean - "Well ... [pause] If Mia wanted a princess for her birthday, and I got her a Batman costume, that just wouldn't be right!"

When I said "We're mellow and ..." to Bean the other day, waiting for her to fill in the "Zen" part, Miss O piped up with a clear-as-day "Zen!"

When we read the book 'Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon', Miss O enthusiastically supplies the "so she DID!" at the appropriate times. She'll even fill in the blanks if I recite the book to her.

She still says "Pin-cess" for princess. And calls Willow something that sounds like "Wih-yo."

Miss O has started setting animals up in odd places, just like Bean does. She set up a few ponies and horses on the window sill by the front door, and I believe (her speech still isn't super clear) they were all looking at the trees.

There's more, but this is everything I can think of right now.

Wordless Wednesday



Happy Birthday Miss O!

I remember when you were born ... when we were in the hospital, I heard all these other newborns wailing away, and you were so quiet. Barely made a peep. I thought I was uber-lucky and had one of those mythical "easy babies".



Then we came home.

You showed me. Our first few months were hellish at times. You never slept unless I was wearing you in a sling, wrap or, eventually, thankfully, on my back in a mei tai or soft-sided carrier. It took around 2 hours of nursing, walking, bouncing, swinging and a vacuum running nonstop three feet from our heads to get you to sleep at night. How you and I survived those months, I'll never know.

But we did. The napping-in-carrier persisted, but we got the nighttime shenanigans down to 45-60 minutes. And sometimes you'd deign to nap on me or, rarer still, on your Boppy. Even with the napping-in-carrier, Bean started part-time preschool and I realized I could walk and read, so I knocked out 130+ books that year and found a measure of Zen. And you started to show your personality, and realized how very cool your big sister is.

And you kept growing. Shockingly, your personality was one of outspoken single-mindedness, a trait that must come from your father and certainly isn't shared by your sister or I. You showed you were just as snuggly and sweet as your big sister, but possessed a self-reliance that she didn't. You could (and still do) play happily by yourself, and make your own fun.

You turned one, and showed that spending so much time around your totally unique sister means that you're her Mini-Me.

Around one, you also developed the ability to throw a hairy sh*t fit over not getting your way. You built it into a traveling road show that went (and sometimes still goes) something like this: Try to get your way; if thwarted, scream and throw self on ground; if audience moves away, pick self up, cease tantrum, track them down, throw self on floor and resume histrionics. Lather, rinse, repeat as needed.

Your survival, however, was guaranteed by your ability to elevate your cuteness slightly above your hissy fits

As the final months of your second year have ticked down, you've shown yourself to be quite the conversationalist. You took your sweet time talking, perhaps because you have such a blabbermouth mommy and a big sister who does enough talking for all of us, but once you started, you didn't stop.

You've also demonstrated a great sense of humor, the physicality (and low pain threshold) needed to have a great time with your big sister, and a quirkiness and sweetness that endears you to all.

So Happy Birthday baby girl. I cannot wait to see what the next year brings us!


Can't call to mom, can't say a word

Thanks for all the feedback on lying; turns out she was telling the truth, at least for the most part.

What Bean had told me was that the teacher called her dad, and her dad said that if she couldn't lay quietly that she couldn't come come home with mommy or daddy, but if she did lay quietly, she could.

Dave sent a note to the director and apparently the teachers will fake phone calls to the parents to gain compliance from the kids. So at least the calling part was true. The other part will come down to whether the teacher will cop to giving an ultimatum like that or not, versus Bean's word. I tend to believe Bean is telling the whole truth: the day Dave sent the note, my parents picked Bean up, and that teacher made a big effort to go over to my parents' car and say how great Bean was that day.

I had planned to talk with that teacher yesterday when I dropped Bean off, as the director had said she's be manning the door for check-in. So on the way to school, I told Bean that I'd be having a talk with the teacher and that it was never true that mommy or daddy wouldn't come get her, and that the teacher was wrong for telling her that. Then the teacher wasn't working the door, so I didn't get a chance to talk to her. Sigh.

It's not the worst thing in the world (tho for a kid like Bean, who already has, I think, some mild separation anxiety because of the divorce it's certainly not a nice thing), but seriously - why can't folks just ... hell. I don't know. Yeah, its gotta be a pain in the ass that she can't sit/lay still for the whole nap, and yeah, it's some sort of requirement that they do a naptime in a licensed facility, but why can't they just figure something out for her? Why does this have to be such a frustrating thing for her - and I - over something that developmentally, she likely doesn't need anymore? Yeah, it'd be nice if she napped, but she won't, she's past the age when it's really necessary, so let's just. move. on.

I wonder if I can bring a signed note in saying "don't force her to nap - ask her to clean the woodwork with a toothbrush instead".

She starts OT today for her sensory stuff, so maybe that's reason enough to grant her a special circumstances dealie. The OT evaluation also showed hypotonia (low muscle tone) in her trunk and mouth, of all places. So her desire for riding lessons will be fulfilled, as horseback riding is awesome for hypotonia. At least we've already got a helmet for her - thanks Libby!

More later, need to prep for a phone interview. Wish me luck :)

I love you. I don't know if I trust you.

Oh. Hi.

Yeah, it's been a while ... insert lame excuse here.

So, how y'all doing? I watched my Gators crash and burn Saturday, then a horrific Vikings game Sunday. I actually switched to a documentary where they were dissecting a crocodile instead of watching the second half of Sunday's game. It was more pleasant to see someone squeeze out the contents of a huge croc's intestines than it was to watch football this weekend.

Random aside: What's up with the cheese sticks waving all over at Lambeau? Is it like the Cheesehead version of the Terrible Towel?

My mom has done her best to jinx the Packers tonite, with a blithe 'they've got it in the bag'-type comment during halftime. So if the green and gold lose tonite, you can send hate mail to

(Update: Whew. She's lucky.)

On to real stuff. Assuming anyone's left after my football blather. Anyone else dealing with lying in their 4-year-old? Bean told a whopper the other day, and recanted the next morning. But the night before, she swore up and down it was true, promised she wasn't lying, the whole nine yards. Because it was so outrageous, I waited until morning to act on it, and when I brought it up, she changed her tune. Again, I pressed her and she said she lied.

She came to me with another big one tonight, and I'm defaulting to "I believe her", but not acting on anything until the morning. Her dad is less willing to believe her, and seems to be more inclined to dismiss her as a result of the first big lie. In his defense, she was lying about his treatment of her, so he's a bit jaded, but still. I hate that he immediately thinks she's lying; it's my biggest fear for my kids - that a grownup won't believe them when they need them too.

Do you have kids that lie? Big lies or just little ones? How do you handle it?

Do it again! Do it again!

Thanks, ladies.

The ones who commented here, the ones who emailed and the ones who called. Thank you.

Y'all are what keeps me going with a smile on the days that all the magic and love and light my girls hold is just enough to keep me putting one foot in front of the other. The support and compassion is much appreciated - thank you.

There are days, however, when the girls put the smile on my face and there is *nothing* that can take it away.

In my wallowing I've neglected to post about Miss O's (very) belated 18-month check, her language explosion and her growing skills.

Her (actually) 23-month check bumped her up and out of the bottom of the Bell curve for height and weight and she's firmly in the 60th-ish percentiles for both. Thanks to her dad, her head circumference knocked it right out of the park (as usual) and stayed above 95%. She's 34" tall and weighs 27#. She's still a pixie compared to her bruiser-sized big sis, but she's a big little person now!

The ped was thrilled with her growth and her overall Miss-O-ness, so she said we could count this as her 2-year check and come back when she's three. Go LuLu!

She's acquiring language at a rapid pace now, after essentially 20-ish months of the bare minimums. She is enamored of princesses, which sounds more like "pin-sis", and pumpkins "pum-pin", and says everything as many times as she sees an object. In other words, if there are four princesses in a picture, there is a "pin-sis" to announce each and every one of them. Driving around a neighborhood yields a ton of joyous "Hi pum-pin!"s, although that's tapering off as Thanksgiving approaches.

I do things just to get a reaction out of her. At night, she will, on rare occasions, want me to sing a song. On the other nights, I'll start singing something just to get her to put out a hand and ask me to "Top, mama". I'll sing the opening lines to anything I can think of to get her to stop me because it's so. stinkin. cute.

She's also bound and determined to do everything herself. Everything. And gets mad if you do it for her or make a move to do it for her. She'll insist "LuLu DO IT!" where do and it run together into one indignant doit! She can climb everything at the playgrounds now, and will slide down anything. She even took on the big girl swings the other day. When she (inevitably) fell, she cried a little, stood up and looked at me, with tears still on her cheeks, and said "more swing?"

She's also potty-curious. The other night, while she was in the tub, she said "pee-pee" and got out and peed on her potty!!

She actually told me "poo-poo" the previous time she took a bath, and I took her out to try on the potty, but she didn't go. Put her back in the tub and a few minutes later heard her wailing forlornly "pooo-pooo!" Sure as, well, sure as sh*t, she had pooped in the tub. Meanwhile, Bean was playing with her back to Lu, blissfully unaware of the party foul that had occurred behind her. It took a few "everybody out of the pool!" yells to even break her concentration enough for her to realize what had happened. And even then, the reaction wasn't a freaked out "Doodie!", but a low-key "LuLu pooped in the tub." and a casual climb out.

Course then I had to move them to my tub, get out my haz-mat suit and clean out their tub, including an overnight bleaching for tub and toys. *Sigh*. Meanwhile they're splashing away in my room, overjoyed at being in mommy's big bathtub. Or, to Bean, "mommy's pool!"

I'll close, since it's way past my bedtime, with the most brilliant Beanism to date: "I wish Brett Favre was my daddy. Do you with Brett Favre was my daddy, mommy? I love Brett Favre. And I love my old daddy too."

If only ...

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Never go for the kill when you can go for the pain.

Started with a little bit scratchy throat yesterday afternoon, and now it's full-on scratchy with a ton of congestion. Yay. No fever, tho, so it looks like it will just be an annoyance and nothing major. I felt like crap last weekend with suspected strep (got results back Tuesday that it wasn't), but since I was kid free, I got to lay around, sleep and recover pretty quickly. Since I'm on mommy duty this weekend, there's no rest for the weary.

It's funny how when I'm alone and feeling somewhat rough, I'll veg out in jammies and not leave the house. When the girls are here, I'm dragged out of bed before 6:00 and forced into cheerful conversations and outings no matter how bad I feel. I'd love to be sleeping now, and then sacking out on the couch for a day of football, but I know that's as likely to happen as me suddenly being paid what I'm worth :)

I've been hurting a bit lately. Not sure why, tho the fact that I'm obviously very easy to replace and it's yet another holiday season alone isn't helping at all. While he's doing serious relationship #2, I'm still sitting here trying to come to terms with how to make love stay and how not to be played for a fool again.

I still don't understand how and why my marriage had to end, and since I'm the kind of person who really likes to understand things fully and to learn lessons, it's very hard for me not to dwell. Marriage isn't supposed to be easy or blissful all the time, it isn't supposed to be "oh, things aren't the way I thought they'd be, so I'll just look for a greener pasture", but with 50% of marriages ending in divorce, it's obvious that a lot of folks aren't making the effort that marriage requires. And it scares me and makes me feel so vulnerable, because I never want to go through any of this again.

And since someone who promised to love and honor me forever, someone who I really believed understood that forever meant forever, could throw me away like garbage when things got hard, how can I ever make that promise or believe that promise again? What's the point? It feels like it would be easier and safer to just never risk all that again. Because going through that much pain again is not something I can deal with.

Ah, yeah. That took a 180-degree turn from just not feeling well. I get a little faklempt when I'm sick ... kinda maudlin and emotional. Makes things that I'm still working on inside percolate just a little too close to the surface. Going through a divorce as a mom of young kids means you don't get to spend time just wallowing and submerging yourself in everything you feel; you have to hold back and compartmentalize, and for me that seems to have led to prolonged processing. Instead of being able to rip the bandaid off, I've had to pick away at it.

I couldn't cry and rant in front of the girls, couldn't say what I wanted to say, or even really feel what I wanted to feel, because I was and am too focused on making it as easy on them as possible. So I have to smile and nod and engage while Bean talks about the girlfriends and their kids, while he just goes ahead and smashes my kids' lives into whatever relationship he's working on. Because I can't just say "I am so friggin' SICK of hearing about so-and-so and her kids!" or scream when Bean says for the hundredth time that weekend: "Kid so-and-so this, Miss so-and-so that. I went hiking with Miss so-and-so; I want to be just like kid so-and-so."

Ugh. That all sounds so bitter, and that's why I've been holding back on posting. I want to talk about this stuff, but I also don't want to sound like I'm all man-hating and bitter. I'm not, I don't think. I don't want any of this to still be bothering me or to still be hurting ... When you loved somebody as much as I loved him, and believed in your life as much as I did, I guess it's hard to look forward and say "I could risk all that again." I date, but I hold myself back. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be able to let myself go again.

I'll close with a Beanism. Just to lighten the mood a little, because I hate to be all Debbie Downer. She and I were watching a big cat show on Animal Planet, and she was a little down about having watched cheetah cubs take out a Thompson's gazelle fawn. As she watched a group of cheetah take down an Grant's gazelle, she cheered herself up and said "Oh rock on! They just killed a male gazelle. They know they shouldn't kill mommy or big sister gazelles because they are more lovable."

Oh yes she did.

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You know me -- all about the good deeds

No good deed goes unpunished.

I've mentioned that before, right?

Took the kiddos to Barnes and Noble with Shirley and her kiddos, then to Petco and PetSmart to say ho to animals. Then, idiots that we are, we thought "hey, let's take them to eat at Chili's"

It was two adults, two four-year-olds and two under two. In other words, it had "stupid" written all over it. Ironically, Bean was actually the less volatile of the two, but Miss O was a royal PITA when it came to just sitting in her high chair and letting me eat. I think I ate about 4 of the chips that came with the queso and maybe a third of my burger. I just scarfed down a yogurt and some beef jerky to round out my meal; my molten chocolate chip brownie and ice cream are still awaiting my consumption. I just can't eat a calorie bomb like that before bed ... if I make it my lunch or my breakfast, I have the rest of the day to burn all of it off, ya know?

Mmmm ... molten chocolate chip brownie + ice cream for breakfast. That has potential. Will surely take some of the edge off the blahs the day throws my way. Maybe I can give the kids a banana and some V8 Frusion and sneak the brownie past them when they aren't looking.

When we arrived at B&N and were walking in, Bean told her friend "Just deal with it - you get what you get and you don't throw a fit." I can't tell you what R was talking about that prompted that from Bean, but I had to work at not laughing out loud. I had been mourning the passing of the one-liner Beanisms, and she hooked me up.

She also told me, in the car, that "At my school, some of the kids aren't showing me respect." When I pushed for more details, it's apparently one kid who told Bean she didn't want to be her friend. "She did it to hurt my feelings, and that's not nice." I can deal with kids saying 'I'm not your friend', since no-one is going to be everyone's friend. I'm not clear if this triggered the one hissy fit Bean admitted to throwing today. But she also told me she doesn't have to throw as many hissy fits here because the kids and the teachers are nicer to her.

Oh yeah, I'm that good a mom. I use "hissy fit" to describe her nonlinear moments, tell her she needs to respect me, my rules and my things, and have told her to deal with it. Generally none of it in a snotty way, mostly in discussion, but still. Have I mentioned I'm not a sugar-coater?

She did finally freak out in the car on the way home this evening, and I'll be damned if I can tell you why. I only mention it for context for this: she wanted to know if someone was going to shoot her since she was bad. I have *no* idea where this line of thought comes from, but I've heard her go down this path a couple times.

After I assured her that no, no-one was going to shoot her, and, more importantly, she wasn't bad, she asked me "Why do only grownups get pissed off and shoot other grownups?" After trying to convince her not to use 'pissed off' (have I mentioned what a good mom I am?), I got to field: "Why did someone shoot Martin Luther King?"

Trying to explain racism and the associated stupidity to a four-year-old in terms that she'll understand but that don't go too deep or get too scary is no easy task. It's not a concept I really want her worried about, but she knows that Martin Luther King Jr was shot by a bad man, so we have the associated conversations from time to time.

Tho honestly, I'd rather tackle that than the ongoing "I want my whole family together" or "You and daddy still love each other a little, right?" pleas.

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I'm drawing a blank

I've been meaning to share this picture Bean drew at school a while back. It was during a "family" themed week, though she really doesn't need a themed week to focus on her family.

Anyways, this is what she drew. Be sure to click on it to see the full-sized version. From left to right is Bean, mommy, a rose, daddy and Miss O:

I crack up every time I see the disgruntled look she put on her dad. When I asked her to tell me about the picture, she doesn't say why she made him look that way, or why he and Miss O have the freaky hair going on. Even without a Beanism to explain the picture, it's still entertaining.

Speaking of Beanisms, they're much more involved these days. Gone is the simplicity of lines like "Look - it's a whole family of poopie!" and "Mommy! I just licked a bug off your table!" Now there are whole conversations a la Bean. Like a convo we had about skyscrapers, where she asked me about them, and I explained about building up instead of out, yadda, yadda. As she's done in the past, she listned thoughtfully and then essentially told me I didn't know squat:
"No mommy. Skyscrapers scrape water from the sky and then bring it to the oceans so the fish can live. You don't know anything about skyscrapers, mommy."

It seems like we have a lot of conversations where she's telling me I'm wrong, or I don't know stuff. Is that a Bean thing or a four-year-old thing?

Now, be a good tin soldier and, uh ...


It's been awhile, huh?

Sorry 'bout that. Been a bit ... overwrought of late. So rather than piss and moan, or be all sad and whiny, I've been laying low. The fact that I've not had a full day off from being a mom in over two weeks hasn't helped me find my Zen or the time to blog, either. Throw in a sick kiddo and a sick mommy, and, well .. I'm moaning, aren't I?

The girls seem to be adjusting well to their new school. I'm not in love with it, but if they're happy, I can deal with my issues. I'm just not a big believer in / fan of Montessori. They say it's all child-centric, but to me, it seems like a program to create little automatons. Maybe it's my own gut reaction to regimented activity. And maybe *regimented* isn't fully accurate or fair, either. But seeing my little almost-two-year-old queued up, and having to get and carry her own stuff. I just don't like it.

It probably makes me insane that I don't like her being trained to be self-sufficient, doesn't it? Actually, Miss O is pretty well-suited to the environment, it's just kind of creepy to me. And like I said, she seems to be doing fine.

Bean seems to be doing well, too.

Note the use of "seems"? Yeah, I did too. I can only say "seems" because the communication from the school/teachers leaves a lot to be desired in my book. In the morning, you kind of do a rolling dropoff, where you pull up, unload, and the kiddos go in. In the afternoon, it's the same thing, but in reverse: pull up, they tell your kids you're there (the kids are sitting on the floor just inside the door) and they come out to you.

There are no daily report sheets, no talks with the teacher (oops, sorry, "guide"). The director and assistant can find time to nag me about the girls' paperwork not being complete - and I don't think they realize that the stress I've been under makes nagging me a real risk - but there's no talk about how the girls are doing.

Instead, I get to ask the girls how their days were. Bean responds with "I don't know" or "I don't want to tell you" and Miss O just says "no" to everything while shaking her head and wearing a sh*t-eating grin. It's less useful than you'd think. Really.

Mommy: Bean, did you have a good day?
Bean: Yeah.
Mommy: What did you do today?
Bean: I don't remember.
Mommy: Did you play with any friends?
Bean: Can we go to the park?
Mommy: Sure. But I want to know about your day ...
Bean: Squirrel!

Mommy: Miss O, did you have fun today?
Miss O: No.
Mommy: Did you play outside today?
Miss O: No.
Mommy: Did you like your lunch?
Miss O: No.
Mommy: Squirrel!


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That's my girl. Always doing the over-the-top thing.

Another day, another humiliation.

Took Bean and Miss O to breakfast this a.m., thinking I'd spring the little one for a day of hooky before they start at the new school tomorrow. We were supposed to meet Julia and her kiddos.

We got there and Bean wanted to sit outside. It was 50-ish degrees this a.m., and her friend didn't want to sit outside. Commence full-on meltdown. Complete with screaming, running away, yelling and histrionics of epic proportions. Seriously. Epic.

After 5 minutes of trying to talk/calm her down (which, I've finally realized, only ramps the whole production up in scope and scale) I had to make good on my "if you can't calm down, we have to leave" promise and drag her out. All while holding Miss O. And in front of a cop, who thankfully gave me a knowing smile.

Or maybe that's the smile they give all whack jobs before running plates and starting a file. Who knows.

Of course, there was more freaking out in the parking lot, and when I got her strapped in, she was screaming and flailing and kicking the tar out of the seat in front of her. Got out of my seat, walked around the van, punched a side panel to let a little pressure off, then moved the seat so she couldn't kick it. As we drove home, I eventually went down the rabbit hole too and engaged in a screaming match with her.

(The awesomeness of my parenting truly knows no bounds. Don't hate. We can't all be this good.)

So by 9:00 my day was crap and I was offering to Miss O "do you want to go to school?" and she was responding with her new "yeah. yeah-yeah-yeah" reply that I took to mean: "Does the pope wear a funny hat? You two nutjobs or eight 18-24 month olds? Bring on the relative Zen of biters and naps on mats, please."

I dropped O off, let them know it was her last day there, then came back out to the car. Where I was greeted by a tranquil Bean who just wanted to chat peacefully, and with a smile, about how she knows she need to make better choices and that she just needs a nap.

And in my head I'm backing away slowly, smiling, and making non-threatening eye-contact with the psycho who is now sucking her fingers and asking for classical music so she can sleep. And from that point forward, we had a damn good day.

Within the span of an hour we went from absolutely fine, to the lowest of lows, and then back up to mellow and Zen. If anyone wonders why I get a little twitchy sometimes, now you know. I'm an unwilling passenger on the emotional rollercoaster that is life with the Bean.

I'm reading "The Sensory-Sensitive Child: Practical Solutions for Out-of-Bounds Behavior" and it's so dead-on balls accurate for Bean it's kinda spooky at times. And I'm totally kicking myself for not listening to the people who flagged sensory issues as long as two years ago. I have got to call her PT for an OT recc, and also circle back around with the child psychologists I touched base with last weekend. I'm not sure how much help a psychologist will provide, because until Bean's able to integrate and accommodate her sensory stuff, we can give her all the tools and all the words in the world, and I don't think it will make a difference.

To my local friends, I'm trying to convince her to stop confronting kids and to go to their parent or a teacher if the kid's behavior is bothering her. So she may come off as a tattletale or a nut, and for that I'll apologize in advance. But if you could just help me out a little and try to help Bean with her issue, I'd appreciate it. If she needs more space, or thinks someone took something or she doesn't want to talk to your kid, I'm trying to get her to tell me, you or a teacher instead of screaming at the kid and lashing out.

After that horrific start to the day, she and I had a fabulous time. We shopped (window shopped, mostly, as I'm all cheap these days. But she did get a $1 doll from the Dollar Tree store at the mall), had lunch at Boston Market (where up to two kids eat free with one adult, which rocks for single parents!), got her to clean up the playroom here and then went to the park and had a great adventure walk. Her listening was amazing, and we talked about all kinds of stuff. And even though I haven't had a break in 8 days, and have had some truly awful moments in that time, I was sad to see her leave with her dad this evening and miss her already.

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To read makes our speaking English good.

So. How's it going?

Not bad over here. Still a little more tightly wound than I'd like, thanks to some unforeseen changes that I've talked about privately, but I'm nothing if not resilient, right?

I'm having to take a day off tomorrow, to cover Bean's not being in school yet, and had planned to take the girls up to the zoo in Waco. But all this rain has me a little worried that all the animals will be sittin' on a big boat when we get there ... it's not a super long drive but long enough that I'd hate to waste the trip.

Have you heard the kerfluffle about the Baby Einstein DVDs? How people are all excited that Disney's offering refunds because - shocker - baby's brains really *aren't* improved by watching the DVDs?

Disney says that it's just their standard policy, and the big fastoosh is actually people making mountains out of molehills (the four-year-old's new favorite phrase) for their own grandstanding.

To me, it's more a statement of how lazy we've become as parents, if we truly believe that a video takes the place of us and what we're supposed to do for and with our children. There's no way I'll be seeking a refund because I never bought 'em thinking they'd make my kids smarter - I bought 'em because they were a more developmentally appropriate babysitter than Buffy the Vampire slayer was.

Yeah, I said it out loud. Babysitter. Anyone who really expected a video to make their kid smarter doesn't need a refund - they need their own set of brain-building videos. Seriously. TV and videos are just ways to buy time for parents. Sometimes it's time to pursue noble causes like a shower or making a meal; sometimes it's time to pontificate on a blog. But it's not called the boob tube for nothin' folks.

I actually never really dug on the DVDs because the midi-style classical music annoyed the crapola out of me. And I just never got how watching a bunch of wind-up toys was a vast improvement over TV + commercials. I was a much bigger fan of Classical Baby - good music, good art and nice little animals.

What do you think? Should people be walking around, fist-bumping because they feel like this is some kind of admission on Disney's part? Does anyone really deserve a refund because a video didn't make their kid smarter?

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What part of punching you in the face do you not understand?


A whole *week* without an update?

And what a week it's been. Long story short, both girls start at a new school on Wednesday. It's one of those eeeaaassseee into it deals, where on Wed they will be there like 9-11 or so, Thurs 9-12, etc. Annoying as *hell* for those of us who have to work for a living, but it is what it is, I guess. Dave and I checked out 5 places, and this was the only one we felt good about. I was prepared not to like it, and to have warmer fuzzies for a few other places, but this place just felt good.

I'm not sure what to expect from Bean, though, and if I can be brutally honest, I'm not holding out high hopes that this will be all that much different. We had a hellacious day yesterday, and sometimes I wouldn't be surprised to find her in a corner pulling the legs off bugs or throwing stones at baby birds. I swear that she sometimes seems like a total sociopath. She spit on a kid at the playground yesterday because he was following her everywhere, even after she screamed at him to stop seceral times.

Now, granted, because I am under an obscene amount of stress right now, my responses and patience have been less than stellar. So I've been feeding into the vicious cycle with really high-caliber parenting moments, but still.

I think that until we fully understand and start "fixing" the sensory and emotional components of her behavior, it's going to be a very rough road. Filled with moments/hours/days that put parents and teachers alike on edge. She's just *not* like other kids, and switching schools isn't going to change that, I don't think. Her dad and I are each going to have to reach deep, deep into our reserves to parent her, and keep reading and implementing new mindsets and approaches. And it's going to be frustrating. Because I've found that the higher the high, the lower the low.

She's capable of such greatness, so much love and such humor and fun. So while I'm describing the weekend, be aware that there is a lot of good thrown in, much more than the "bad". And 99% of the time, I see her as a magical, loving kid that happens to require a lot more skill to parent than a kid who doesn't have her unique makeup. That is, I cut her the slack, I cut myself the slack, and we have a great time.

The 1% of the time where we're both mired in "the suck", well, weekends like I'm experiencing happen.

All weekend has seemed like an exercise in "no good deed goes unpunished" for me. Take her to Sportfun and lunch, she freaks out at Ikea. Get more food in her and try to help her understand the choices she makes, be rewarded with a screaming freakout in the car, complete with throwing things at me. Because Miss O has had a great day and is begging "park!" over and over, reward a good choice of Beans' with a stop at a playground, have her scream at a kid and spit on him for following her around. Bring her home and resist throttling her and lecture instead, listen to her tell me she doesn't love me, that she hates being at my house and wants to go to her daddy's. Forever.

At some point recover (myself) from all that, talk gently about how bad the day was for both of us, shake on both of us making good choices the next day, then have her wake up and refuse to quiet down when I ask her not to wake her sister. Take a do-over and get a few good hours in.

Then have her violate the deal we agreed on, that if I ask her to do/not to do something twice and she doesn't do/not do it she has to go to her room, and have her screaming or laughing at me as I try to calmly enforce the rule. Take yet another step in her direction and talk with her and soothe her as she is in there, then indulge in 5-10 minutes of the rough play she loves, where we can roll around and be silly. As I wrap that up, she lick me. I ask her to stop. She licks me again. I ask again, and reiterate that the game is over. She licks me again. I explain how she can't do that, that people think it's gross/freaky. She licks me again. I remind her of our deal, and how I have given a little extra latitude but that this is my last request. She licks me again.

I tell her she'll need to stay in her room for a little while to think about what I asked and why she couldn't do it. She screams bloody murder and starts kicking the walls. I ask her to stop, she screams more. I take Miss O and leave, Bean commences histrionics. I wait a little, then go in and try to explain to her that she really just needs a nap - that I want to be able to take her places this afternoon, but I can't unless she sleeps. She keeps screaming at me. I leave again, trying to calm O down so *she* can nap. Bean's still screaming, so I try again to talk to her, and explain that I'd be happy to hug/rock/hold her if she can calm down, but that O needs to nap, and I can't bring her in the room if Bean's freaking out.

Finally, *finally* get Bean to settle herself down, then go in and try to lay with/snuggle with both girls. Herding cats would be a more satisfying task at this point. Then Bean freaks out again, because in the course of the 15-20 minutes of histrionics, I have threatened that if she can't calm down, we won't go anywhere, and now I have to stick to it. I then threaten that she will stay in her room all freakin' day if she doesn't nap, and we get into a very mature discussion, culminating in her laughing in my face as I threaten, me swatting her tush and her laughing at me again.

I'm fairly certain my head did at least one 360 at that point, and I may have thrown up a little pea soup in my mouth.

So finally, they're asleep, I'm blogging and pretending my house doesn't look like a tornado hit it and trying to get my heart and my head to a "clean slate" place for her and I to start over from. I'm also trying to decide if I have to stick with the "we're not going anywhere!" ultimatum I threw out, or if I can gracefully back down because she napped ...

Oh yeah. I'm *that* good a parent.

Flag down on that play, babe

What a weekend. I did get to watch a little football, unfortunately no Packers or Vikings today, tho I did see some highlights. Much love for Donald Driver, my favoritest receiver, for breaking a team record on receptions AND making a crazy-ass one handed, totally interfered with, catch.

Had a great meeting with Dave about what to do first with Bean; he's taking point on calling the handful of preschools we agreed on, and trying to set up a few asap visits for us to go tour them and see what their philosophies are. Getting her into a new school, and transferring Miss O there as well, is priority number one. The therapies are important too, but my folks can only help out with childcare this week, so we've got to visit 3-5 of the schools we like and make a decision fast.

No pressure, right? Sigh.

So wish us luck finding a good fit for her, and a place that Miss O will adjust to well.

We have a...little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then...explode.

Some belated Sea World weekend pics

My big girl, pleased as punch with the hotel and all the flowers!

Bean and Miss O, exploring the Hyatt grounds

Bean and her friends, swinging

Love for the Clydesdale statue

Mommy, looking like a spaz, and kiddos


Bean plays Guitar Hero

Thanks so much for the empathy, feedback and well-wishes here and elsewhere. This situation with Bean is so hard; I don't think her dad really "gets" it, as I've asked him to grab lunch Monday so we can talk and got the "I'm busy, can't we just talk on the phone?" response. To me, this isn't an 'on the phone' thing - this is her dad and her mom sitting down and really dealing with what's going on with no distractions. No sitting on the Crackberry or doing anything else. And frankly, after all the parenting-by-committee and forwarding all my emails that went on with the lovely Voldemort, I don't trust him to just be talking to *me* unless we're face-to-face. Does that make me sound bitchy? I don't mean it that way, I just want to be sure it's Dave I'm talking to, not a joint email.

This feels like one of those crossroads, where I'm being given a clear sign that Bean needs both her parents to make some changes, get her into the therapies she needs and have a 'come to Jesus' meeting of the minds where we brainstorm and fix this. Not just bandage it - really understand what is going on and what we need to do to help her. It may be something that takes her a while to really get through, but as parents, we should be working our asses off to understand what is going on and start helping her work through it.

There is one name that keeps getting spit out. Aggressive behavior, run-ins with authorities ...

Le sigh.

And an extra le sigh.

Bean got the boot from preschool today. Okay, not 'the boot', but they asked us to take a break and not bring her back until January. Which for working parents pretty much means 'the boot', as now we'll have to start her in a new preschool, pay all their enrollment and start-up fees, and get her acclimated there. At which point, it's not like we'll want to yank her two months later to go back to her now-former school.

I'll give them credit for holding on this long, and doing everything they could. But Bean's incident reports were piling up, and two sets of parents have now come in to say their kids are specifically afraid of Bean and don't want to come to school anymore.

There are more, sordid details that I've bored most of y'all with on the phone already and I just don't feel like putting all out there, but Bean is seen as an aggressive and vociferously independent kid that they've exhausted their ideas and solutions on. And I'm not saying that in any sort of condemning way toward them; I'd feel the same way in their shoes.

But I'm not in their shoes; I'm her "mama". The person who loves her beyond reason and is heartbroken that she's struggling so much, that she carries so many burdens around and lashes out so strongly at times. I'm the one who sees everything she is, and knows it's just rock solid good at it's core. I'm the one who can (and does) overlook the flaws and doesn't have to worry about managing a classroom - I get to set her up for success and help her navigate her feelings before they're meltdowns.

And while most everyone who knows her has been treated to an Epic freakout at one point or another, they don't see her as an aggressive kid or a mean kid. Unfortunately, that's not the impression she was making at her school.

I'm not sure what's right for her now, but I'll obviously be spending a good chunk of my weekend trying to figure out the next move. Is a Montessori approach better? A nanny? An in-home daycare? Nanny and in-home worry me that they won't be stimulating enough; another school setting worries me that once the novelty wears off, she'll have similar issues there.

And, much as I hate saying it, I worry that the aggression she's displayed won't be "fixed" by moving her to another school setting. I don't know if a more individualized setting, like a nanny or in-home care would be better able to help her succeed and learn to manage her feelings ... She needs to see a psychologist for sure, and likely an occupational therapist, as her sensory issues play a role in this.

My poor kid. I think some of this would have happened even without the divorce, but it certainly didn't make her life any easier. She wants her "family" together so badly; any group of objects she has, she makes a family. Plastic horses, Ponies, crayons, rocks .... it's heartbreaking to see her name off "this is the daddy, this is the mommy, and this is me and this is Miss O", and to hear her almost-daily mantra "I want all of my family in the same house" or some variation on that.

Divorce sucks. Especially for kids.

Oh my god, they're everywhere! Frogs!

Thanks for the compliments on the lovely Miss O. She's quite the photogenic little thing, isn't she? There's a photo right after that where it looks like Julia captures an "I just put a handful of sand in my mouth, and it's not as tasty as you would think" look from her that's slightly less beautiful, but no less cute in it's own right.

Both girls had Best Actress in a Childhood Trauma-worthy freakouts this a.m., the likely Osacr-winner being Bean's 15 minute sulk-whine-cry fest over the dresses in her drawer being "not long enough to twirl in". I kid you not.

But they also had a few awesome moments. Like Bean telling me "I'm just going to love my mama all day". And both of them giggling and bopping around in their car seats, after Bean's request for 'dancing music' ended up on a radio station playing Isaac Hayes singing the theme from Shaft. Damn right I was laughing out loud watching them in the rear view mirror. (Shut your mouth!)

Miss O is not enjoying her school dropoffs one little bit these days; every morning is a full on crying fest. And it totally sucks. Bean's a bit better, but that's because I'm willing to get her there early enough to hang out in the room with her favoritest teachers, Miss K and Miss J before I take her to her class. Yesterday, one of the boys brought in a toad he caught and as the kids gathered round and Miss K asked a newcomer if they wanted to see the frog, Bean interrupted: "Actually, it's a toad."

Miss K laughed, said she was right, and recalled how when Bean was just 2.5 and in her class, Miss K was showing a picture of a "baby horse" and Bean corrected her with "it's called a foal". It's nice that she appreciates my little smarty pants and isn't annoyed by being corrected by her :) Because sometimes it gets a little old for me ...

On the drive this a.m., Bean also informed me that watermelon seeds push themselves into watermelons, and that's where vines come from. She asked if that was right and I said "is that what you think really happens?" and she said yes. So I said "then if you believe it, it's right to you." Of course, she caught the hedge, and asked me what I thought happened. I went thru germination, sprouting, vine growth, flowers, pollination and then fruit and she listened politely and thoughtfully, pausing afterward before she informed me I was totally wrong.

Sigh. Of course I am.

Miss O insisted on bringing "Uncover a Tarantula" with her as her naptime dolly today. I talked her out of the two Breyer horses she originally held, but couldn't get the spider book away from her. Since she screams at dropoff anyways, I let her bring it in with her, then took it when I left. Why make her scream twice, right? Then Bean got to share it with the boys in Miss K's class, as the only girl there, C, was totally not interested in seeing the book. I'm sure Julia dropped dead with shock upon reading that ;)

And now they're off to Dave's for the weekend. And while I enjoyed my first evening off, and accomplished a bit, by tomorrow or Saturday latest, I'll be missing the hell out of them again.

Wordless Wednesday


whispers - photo credit is all Julia


Anchovies, anchovies you're so delicious. I love you more than all the other fishes.

I'm probably the only person in the world for whom sleeping in a hotel with my kids really isn't a hard thing - they're both so used to cosleeping with me that it's just a matter of getting a king bed and laying perpendicular to the headboard. A couple well-placed pillows on nightstands and a chair or two to block them from rolling off, and we're good to go.

So, the Sea World report: in spite of Maine-esque weather (high 50's and either cloudy skies ir a steady drizzle pretty much the whole time we were at the park), a good time was had by all. Both girls loved the park, the animals and the hotel. Bean referred to the hotel as "our apartment", and was crushed to learn we were headed home to "our real house" on Sunday - she wanted to stay in the hotel longer. Both nights, she crashed within a few minutes of her head hitting the pillow and slept straight through the night. Miss O did her usual 20-30 minutes of frolicking, then she, too, was out for the night.

Anyone expecting a Zen-like experience at the Hill Country Resort's spa was likely no fan of the kids this weekend, but I take perverse pleasure in seeing people get pissed off at my kids enjoying themselves. There's just something so ... schadenfreude-y ... about annoying someone who's wound so tight that a couple of joyous shrieks and loud kid chatter puts their panties in a wad.

We arrived at Sea World early enough to feed the dolphins on Saturday morning, but Bean's excitement at the prospect was nipped in the bud when one of the popoises opened wide and exposed a mouth full of teeth; at that point, the tray o' anchovies or whatever they feed them was all mine {insert eveil muahahaha laugh and hand-rubbing here}. Miss O was beside herself, and likely would have crawled into the pool with them.

To my Cirque de SoGay hating self, the fact that Bean's favorite part of the day was the "Viva!" show with high divers and synchronized swimming was a bit of a blow. But she loved "all the acrobats and dolphins and the mommy and baby Beluga whales!" And, being the good mommy that I am, I totally went along with it and encouraged her. Viva! even bumped the Clydesdales from the top of the favorites list; probably because there were no baby horses :)

She and her friend C love-love-loved the "Cannery Row Caper" show, too, with the sea lions and the otter. The silly and slapstick-rich story had them in stitches. (Nice alliteration, huh?) And going to feed the seals and sea lions afterward was a HUGE hit. After the guide there explained the differences between seals and sea lions, I passed a couple nuggets on to my budding zoologist and she kept them straight for the rest of the trip. She and C would have cheerfully fed the pinnipeds all. day. long.

Saturday was the cloudy and cool day, so the kiddos got to play a little at Shamu's Happy Harbor and dig in the sand in between shows. The sun actually came out around 2:00 or so, tho at that point the kiddos had about had it and we headed back to play at the hotel. Lots of sand and playscape time, and a good bit of 'running around the lobby like a crazy person' time, along with 'bang on the piano' time :)

Sunday was just cold and wet all day, so it was a lot of indoor activities at Sea World (the aquarium and penguin exhibits were perfect for this). But Bean got to ride the little Shamu roller coaster (and did put her hands up with me) and a small ferris wheel in spite of the wet. We caught one last Cannery Row Caper and headed home around 3:00.

I'll definitely go back; with both girls and even a just mommy-and-Bean getaway a few times a year. She travels so well in the car, and if it's just she and I all day, I imagine the park will be a piece of cake. Maybe we'll see if Julia wants to take C and make a whole mommy-big-girl day of it one time too.

But now I need to get back to sleep and bid a reluctant farewell to my long weekend with the kiddos. I tweeted that sometimes I really miss being "just" a SAHM - this long weekend, tho trying at times, made me long for more quality time with them than just a few weekends a month. I'm sure I'd change my tune within a month or two, but man, I really miss doing things with them ....

Actually, you were sleeping the sleep of the knocked unconscious.

Man, I'm wiped out. Monday night I think I got two hours of sleep - I was obsessing on the career fair and classes and everything I needed to do, and the girls were having a fitful night, with one of them making noise like every 45 minutes or so. So I'd toss and turn and try to settle my head, only to have one of them cough or cry out and wake me completely and start all over again. And then I just got to the point where I was wide awake, waiting for the next sound. I don't think I fell asleep until close to 4, and the munchkins were up by 6.

Tuesday night I fell asleep with them by around 9-9:30, but woke up at 12:30 and was awake until 3:30 or so, and they got up at 6:30.

Last night was better, but still not 8 hours and not solid sleep. I swear, I'm taking 3-4 benadryl tonight (the girls will be at their dad's) and knocking myself out. Valerian didn't do it, melatonin and Calms Forte didn't do it, so I'm pulling out the big guns.

Melissa, Miss O has similar communication issues because of her unclear speech. And similar frustrations; she's getting better, but it's much slower going than it was with Bean. I know if I were to sit and focus with her like I could when I was a SAHM to one kiddo, she'd be better, and that sucks. I totally blew off her 18 month check, so I don't know if she's truly lagging or just not speaking as well as Bean did at this age. With two months to go until the 2-year one, and with flu season in high gear and me not feeling like just hanging out at the doc's with her, I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Bean's doing quite a bit better at school of late; the teachers have been being more creative in finding things that work for her (and them), and while one girl can't wait to tell me every day that Bean is mean to her (ironically, after the girl gets all up in Bean's face when she's cranky about being dropped off, and then calls her stinky), we're incident report free. I don't expect her to always get along with everyone, so even if the "Bean is always mean to me" is true, I'm fine with that. The girl makes *me* want to be mean to her with the 5-10 minutes I spend in the morning, so Bean's showing considerable restraint if she's just telling her to back off or the like.

And tomorrow I'm picking them up after lunch and we're heading to Sea World for the weekend. Wish me luck. And patience. We're going with Julia and her family, and another friend and her daughter. The friend got us a great rate at the Hyatt Hillcountry, right across from Sea World. There's a bit to do at the hotel itself, too, so it should be a ton of fun. Packing for a weekend with two kiddos, tho, quite the adventure in overkill.

Bean's beside herself about going, mostly because she'll get to see the Clydesdales, which are her "favorite horse because of the feathers on the feet". She's expecting mommies and babies, so hopefully there'll be a foal there. She'll survive if there isn't, but that would be awesome. She's also excited that she's tall enough to ride the kiddie rollercoaster :)

I'll give a full report Monday. Have a great weekend, everyone!

I don't know what it is about football that does it for me ...

Yay! It's Monday and I have my girls back :)

It's also the single most conflicting Monday Night Football game I have ever watched. I've never been an "I hate everyone in the NFC North"-type Packer fan, so I never had a ton of bad feelings for the Vikings to begin with. Used to love watching Cris Carter, and the brief Carter-Moss tandem was fab. So when Favre went to the Vikes, well, I couldn't hate. And Favre and the Vikings have been a lot more fun to watch than Rodgers and the Pack.

Packers-Vikings is just wrong on so many levels. I'm so confused. Of course I want my team to win, but this year I have two teams. And I so badly want Favre to pull a "nanny-nanny-boo-boo" on Ted Thompson and the front office folks. I *should* be asleep, or at least getting there, since I've been fighting a bug all weekend, and I'm sure the girls aren't going to let me sleep in, but I can't walk away from football!

I'm sure I'll jinx her, but Bean's had a great couple days at school, and her teacher apologized to me today for coming across as negative. I doubt we're looking at eternal smooth sailing from this point forward, but it's a nice set of circumstances. Bean has also invited her teacher to Sea World, so I'm thinking she probably likes her teacher just fine, whatever my reservations are/were about the expectations they have of her.

Congrats Brett. That was a great game. The only QB in the history of the league to beat all 32 teams.

More tomorrow, if I'm up early enough or by some miracle I choose to stay up instead of crashing with the girls. Right now, I know 5:30 is gonna come way, way too early.

I brought you some supper, but.… if you'd prefer a lecture, I've a few very catchy ones prepped

Yeah, I'm definitely battling *something*. Still no fever, but a nice burn-y eye, scratchy throat, congested and just ick feeling's been hanging on all day. And the dreary, overcast day was just a perfect one for jammies and TV.

I'm wondering if I am to blame for Bean's behavior issues at her dad's and at school. After a bumpy month or so, I've gone back to what worked for me when she was little: setting her up for success. I've really streamlined what's important to me and worth clashing with her over, and a lot of other stuff I've just let go. As a result, her times with me are relatively stress and incident-free. Don't think it's all sunshine and roses, but I've made a concerted effort to minimize rules and requirements, not make unrealistic demands of her and to allow her the freedom to make choices and be who she wants to be. I also watch her for cues, and if I see a meltdown coming, I try to get in front of it by holding her and rocking her.

While she spends about 2/3 of her "home" time with me, she spends another 45-ish hours a week (and that's a good chunk of waking hours) at preschool, and 1/3 of her "home" time with her dad. He's a bit more rules and regulations than I am, but he's *generally* a pretty AP guy in most of what he does and how he relates to the girls.

Preschool is obviously a lot more rules and regulations than I am.

And here's where I wonder if my laissez-faire approach to parenting is doing her more harm than good. At least in the near-term. If she colors on the floor with a crayon and I happen to catch her in the act, to me it's a talking point. To her dad, it's a time out. To her teacher, it's worth making Bean show me the floor. If I don't catch her in the act, I'll tell both girls (usually, tho sometimes I do single her out) that we don't do that and I'll restrict crayon access to just in my office or something like that. But if I choose to leave them with crayons while I take a shower, and I end up with magenta windowsills, that's kinda my fault, at least in my mind.

Am I doing her harm by not echoing the structure/discipline/rules she has elsewhere? I'm a single mom running a zone defense on two pretty spirited kids, and honestly, I pick my battles: they can't run away from me in public, they can't run into a parking lot/road, they need to be gentle with animals, not kill bugs indiscriminately and not hit/kick/spit.

The other stuff, it's all more a discussion and natural consequence-type stuff. If Bean's insisting on wearing shoes that are too small, she gets blisters. If she wants to wear a velvet dress to go play at the park in July, she sweats buckets (and I keep a good eye on her). If she won't share a toy with her sister, the toy gets taken away from both of them. I may take away a thing she likes if she's made a bad choice, but I really only "discipline" for large infractions.

What do y'all think? Am I too permissive? Should I create more structure? Am I inadvertently causing her to act out at school because they have rules and I don't? Ditto at her dad's house?

I'll keep saying it, it's fun to say... dollhouse, dollhouse, dollhouse, dollhouse.

Sorry for neglecting y'all. I was on mommy duty this week, and except for staying up late Monday to blog, I crashed with the girlies on Tuesday and Wednesday, then felt kinda crappy yesterday, and not at all in the mood to blog. I think I've nipped whatever it is in the bud, but I'll be keeping the vitamin megadosing and the hot baths that jack up my body temp, plus making sure I get some decent sleep this weekend.



I'm back. I was going to say that I had just finished watching tonight's episode of Joss Whedon's brilliant Dollhouse. But then I went to the Fox site to linky it, started reading some stuff about Joss and the Dollhouse, and ended up going down the rabbit hole in search if a full version of the unaired Epitaph One online. Yes. I know. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Can't help it. Ironically, I just lost another 20 minutes reading the wiki for Epitaph One (that I just watched) and then linking out to Dollhouse quotes wiki and reading all of those. It's a sickness.

Anyways ... Bean had a somewhat rough week at school, a good week with me, and then off to Dave's for the weekend again. We're finally back into the "normal" schedule, where he has them the 1st/3rd/5th weekends, after some juggling in August/September. Two weekends off in a row is a little discombobulating, and honestly, not something I enjoy anymore. I used to kind of like and need it, but nowadays, even one weekend off seems like too much.

Her teacher seems to have come around to leading with the good; so much so that it's all "she had an awesome day!" and then a quiet "but there is an incident report in her cubby." I know she was doing the spitting thing again on Wednesday, and she had another report yesterday about pushing someone down. There's a lot of aggression showing lately, and I just don't get it. She's been really vocal and expressive about wanting her whole family back together, so I don't know if that's part of it, if she just has crappy anger management abilities, if she'd have been like this even without the divorce ... who knows.

Melissa, you said you were dealing with violence/temper stuff, but in a 2-ish year old? Have you identified any triggers? Miss O will bite sometimes at school, but it seems more about just being pissed off at a kid than actual aggression, if that distinction makes sense? The reports I've gotten on her stuff always have a kind of slapstick quality to them: "Bit a friend when he wouldn't move out of the chair she wanted"; with Bean, she's punching a kid for calling her Spiderman and sticking his tongue out at her. Not that I don't get that Spiderman can be a bit of a diss, but sticks and stones and all that ...

Julia, I could totally see me having the same issues as your neighbor, because I think I'm less strict and more laissez-faire than Dave, and yet he's the one who's experiencing the behavior problems. I'm not sure why ...

You got to learn how to play with others.


Did y'all see my boy Brett play on Sunday? Not bad for an old ma, huh? And Percy's 101 yard kickoff return ruled, too. What? What? I'm not supposed to be all up in the Vikings' bidness? I'm a Packer fan? Yeah, yeah. You show me the day that Aaron Rodgers is as fun to watch as Brett Favre and I'll remember my place. I promise. Totally screamed like, well, like a girl watching Brett play yesterday. The Pack? *yawn*

I got my girlies back today, but they came back to me all congested and coughing. Bean's eyes are all purpley-red from lack of sleep, and O had a nose full of boogers. No fevers, thus far, and dave thought it was allergies all weekend, so we'll see. Don't think I'm not loading up on vitamins as a precaution!

Heh. I could hear Bean over the monitor and she was whining "stop!" I go in to check and she's rolled herself into O's crib where O was probably trying, in vain, to get the big lummox outta there.

Bean apparently had a sucktastic behavior weekend at her dad's, then ramped it up a notch when she punched a boy that was hiding behind the teacher to get away from her. (Don't think I didn't have a fleeting moment of pride that she punched a boy and a fleeting moment of pity for said boy's dad when he finds out his son got clocked by a girl. While he was hiding from her.) They made me pick up the incident report in the office, because she spit on him too. *sigh*

On a positive note, tho, when I picked her up, her teacher said she had a great day, but that there was an incident report in the office. She gave me the details, but did at least start with Bean having had a great day. When I picked it up in the office, my initial impression of the new director was not so great - she couldn't spare a smile or kind word for Bean or for me. I get that hitting and spitting aren't cool, but c'mon -the girl is like 4.25 years old and she's allowed some screw-up latitude. And I'm a nice lady. You can't smile?

Anyways ...

Ironically, I was telling friends this weekend that Bean's behavior with me was much improved. And she was great with me tonight, as well. Dave said she was defiant, laughed at him or ignored him when he disciplined her, etc. I'm not sure why her behavior is so different from house to house ... I have some thoughts, but I'm still tumbling them around in the great big open space above my shoulders.

Any other "two homes" parents reading? Do you see similar kinds of behavior differences from house to house, even without dramatically different parenting styles? Dave and I are different, but it's not like polar opposites different ...

Well, I guess we're off to the old factory. I hate that place.


Go Gators! Beat Kentucky!

I miss the heck out of the girls when they're at Dave's for the Thurs-Sun night stretch. Yeah, after a weekend when it's been all Lord of the Flies around here, I'm happy when Thursday comes and I know I have a night off, but I already miss them on Friday night :)

I'm not really focused today, so it's just going to be a couple links. I tried to find a good video of the Gator Chomp for y'all, and especially for Erica, whose heart will be broken as she cheers for the Wildcats today, but they're all grainy and wobbly.

Oh - and hey - remember all my posts about The Smell? Well, I smelled it Thursday night and yesterday I got a migraine! I'm super excited because there's a documented connection between them and I have a term: olfactory aura. I need to start keeping better track, because I do get migraines, I do smell The Smell, and there's usually a somewhat cyclical element to it. But yay to a possible explanation! I totally couldn't afford / didn't have time for some of the scarier reasons for the not-really-there smell.

And now for something completely different ...

If you're in the Austin area, and looking for work, there's a career fair coming up at Amplify Credit Union the week of October 5th. We've got the usual 10 classes, with some great new speakers lined up, and two bonus classes this go 'round.

Here's a link to the class descriptions and the RSVP: You'll definitely want to RSVP for these as seating is limited.

Here's a link to the Career Fair RSVP: For this, an RSVP is less necessary, and you can sign in when you arrive. If there are specific industries you're looking for, leave me a comment this weekend, as I'll be calling around to fill up the final 4-5 booths on Monday. The cool thing about the career fair is that the companies and recruiters in attendance have to be actively hiring and not just collecting resumes.

(The linkies have maps / address / times / dates of the classes and career fair, as well)

The fabulous Camille is doing a Giving Tree giveaway over at her blog. It's been so long since I've read that book ... I'm headed to the library this a.m. to see if I can grab a copy for Monday night's story time. It's no light anatomy & physiology read, I'm sure, but hopefully Bean will approve even without SEM pics of macrophages. At least she loves trees.

Anyone doing anything super fun this weekend? I'm headed to a Cystic Fibrosis Fundraiser and Auction over at Vino100 this afternoon. Until then, I'll be cleaning up a weeks' worth of the Destructo Girls' work.

When I want a lot of medical jargon I'll talk to a doctor.

How did you start your Wednesday morning?

Watching a video of an angioplasty? No?

Bean's bedtime book on Tuesday was Essentials of Human Anatomy & Physiology. In it, an illustration of an artery with plaque deposits began a whole journey down the rabbit hole of junk food, cholesterol and coronary artery disease, which led, naturally, to the coolness that is a balloon in the artery. Hey, she was a little spooked by stuff building up in her blood vessels, so it was great to be able to save the day with a balloon :) I was a little foggy on *how* angioplasty worked (where the catheter went in, etc), so I promised her a video in the morning. Then passed out cold with them as I laid down with them. After 4-5 days of me staying up until midnite-ish and them getting up at 5-ish, my body had *had* it.

Next morning, after telling me Handy Manny was boring and asking if we could watch football (god love her), we watched the angioplasty video. It was a CGI one, so no blood, but she was fascinated. Especially with the "little cage" (you know it as a stent). Her description later was a little bogged down with confusion between a plaque occlusion and how T-cells and viruses work (there was an image of a T-cell being attacked by the AIDs virus in her anatomy book, but I kind of glossed over all that, as she already knows how easily viruses are transmitted, and didn't want to hit her with killer viruses as well), but in her defnse, she's got the T-cells and virus in place of the plaque, and they all look pretty darn similar.

She was all excited to tell Miss Kate and Maria about the video, but I essentially had to drag her into her classroom. And she wouldn't breathe a word of it to the teachers there. That's pretty typical of every dropoff - I have to drag her in there and she clams up when Miss J asks her a question or tries to engage her.

I've talked to Bean, and she doesn't say anything bad about the teachers in her class, just that she's scared to go there. I've even, reluctantly, asked the sort of leading questions I try to avoid like "Do you like Miss K and Miss J? Are they nice to you?" She has said she likes Miss Kate's class better, but only says it's because she has more stuff and her class is only half a day. I've explained that half days aren't an option, and that stuff isn't important, people are.

She's been lamenting about wanting her mommy and daddy back together again, as well. Every. Single. Picture. this week has been her "whole family", with Dave and I side by side. But we did talk a bit about how mommy and daddy will never get married again, so even though it's sad for her, and probably will be for a while, she can't focus on that aspect. She actually said to me the other day: "I'm sad that you and daddy won't ever be married again, but I know that it will never happen, so I'm not too sad about it." I'm glad she can articulate that - I don't ever want to invalidate her feelings, but something like that, I think it's important that she *know* it just will not happen, so she isn't harboring any hope. She can be sad; hell, there are still aspects about it that make me sad (most notably that it's still hard for her). But I don't want her thinking that Dave and I will ever remarry.

The kid's just too damn smart for her own good sometimes.

Wordless Wednesday



Let's hear it for the girl ...

My mom sent me an article I think I'm going to print for Bean's school: When a Parent's 'I Love You' Means 'Do as I Say'. I've read Alfie Kohn's "Unconditional Parenting" book, so I knew what to expect from the article. UP is, to me, an ideal and not something I can implement on an 'every minute of the day' basis, but it's such an awesome concept. I don't do time outs. I take away *things*, but I don't withhold love or affection. Bean's fond of saying "Love is a privilege you'll never take away mommy." She knows if she makes craptastic choices, we won't be going on any special outings or she may not get to do arts and crafts at home, or she may lose her bedtime stories, but she also knows that's where it ends. Sure, there's still a 'condition', but it ain't my love or affection.

The one thing I have to thank this latest teacher dilemma for is that it has reawakened my belief that Bean is a great kid. Somewhere in the effing fours, I had forgotten that. I had forgotten how magical, how funny, how incredibly warm and loving she is. I'd lost sight of the fact that she's the kid that tells me, as she accompanies her improv song on the harmonica,

"This song is called 'Crazy Big Sister Girl'
You're my crazy big sister girl
See my stinky butt-butt
See my stinky butt-butt
My stinky butt-butt is funny!"
She's the kid who hollers at Dora the Explorer "I already said map!" She's also the kid who asks if I can stop the car so she can get out to hug a tree.

She's the kid who asks me to sit closer to her so she can hug me while she eats, and goes to get her little sister when we're coloring, because she thinks Miss O should be with us. She picks out Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon for story time every night because she knows it's my favorite book (and one the rest of y'all should get if you don't have it - it's just awesome.)

She's the kid that explained to me this afternoon, as we looked at a 'human body' book and a picture of the facial musculature, "Right here (pointing midway up the nose) is about where my finger stops when I pick my nose. Then it finds a boogie to eat and it goes into my mouth. Then it goes back in my nose."

She knows the Latin names for crape myrtles, oaks and birches, but has *no idea* how a huge scribble of magenta crayon ended up on the windowsill. She will cheerfully yoink a toy from her sister with the cry of "I had it first", knowing that's usually my criteria for deciding who keeps it. But she'll also hold all the other 4-year-olds in her class at bay if they try to hassle Miss O when we arrive to pick Bean up.

I'm sure there are some folks who think the fact that Bean's still in her current class reflects poorly on me; while there are others who think I'm some molly-coddling parent who just needs to STFU. The paradox for me is the balance between what she can expect from life, and what I want for her in life. Her teacher's take on how kids should behave/be treated isn't really out of left field. I need to see if it aligns with her school's stated policies, and then Dave and I have to decide how to handle it if it does, but I think she's basically a good teacher who is probably a good fit for most kids.

One of the reasons I've held off on any formal sit-down is because I don't want to talk to the school and have them come down on the teacher; she's probably doing what she thinks is right, and since she has taught kindy before, she probably has an ideology she follows. Julia and Vivian, your takes mean a lot to me, because you have education experience. J, you mentioned she may be a Harry Wong 'student', and from what I can find online with his classroom management dealie, I wouldn't be surprised. It rubs me a little wrong, but since I'm not trying to survive in a room full of four-year-olds, far be it from me to question a "classroom management" approach to life.

Thankfully, Dave and I are again on the same page as far as questioning whether it's the right environment for Bean. With the evil Miss A, we wanted Bean out of that class, and fast. With this teacher, it's more about understanding if the school is behind the approach, and if so, why. Tho my gut says if this really is the way Bean's life will be until kindy, it's not something either of us is really okay with ...

So thanks again to everyone for the feedback and support. Thanks also, for the cheerleading for Bean. I wish everyone could meet her in person, she's a remarkable kid and one you would be unlikely to forget any time soon :)

You've got a nice set-up here. But you made one mistake.

Does anyone remember that old Dilbert cartoon where the boss writes a 'letter of recommendation' that says stuff like: "For a man of his hygiene, he doesn't steal as much as you think."

It's funny, but it's also reflective of the way some people characterize others.

It's what I think of every time I pick Bean up from school - even if she had a rock star day, they're going to find something to pick at. I've dealt with people like that on off through life; it's usually done in a less blatant way, but y'all get the drift.

I picked Bean up yesterday and she had a great day. She sat quietly for a freakin' hour with *nothing to do* and then the let her color. While she was coloring, she scribbled a little on the floor. And that was what the teacher made her show me. No: "I think it's just awesome that she was able to sit quietly for that whole MF hour" just: "yeah, she had a good day and complied with our ridiculous requirement that she sit quiet and do nothing for an hour, but look at this. You need to talk to her about that."

And the making her show me. Not just saying "she drew on the floor a little"and letting me talk to her, a big "we respect school property and you need to talk to her at home about this." No. I don't. What I chose to discipline and talk about at home isn't up to them. And frankly, I didn't and wouldn't say a damn thing to her about that. She's bored out of her freakin' skull for that two hour 'quiet time' - don't set her up to fail.

Ditto Thursday - great day, but she was using rocks to "draw" in the dirt and graduated to using the rock to 'draw' on the wrought-iron gate. And that flicker of "bad" was what they chose to focus on.

I don't get that. Now, I'll be the first to admit that if I form a negative opinion of someone in our first meeting, that negative perception holds. But I don't think I do that 'single out the one or two "bad" things, let it eclipse all the other good stuff that happened' thing.

In talking to folks, though, that just seems to be the way things go- you can do all sorts of great work all day, but forget the cream for someone's coffee and that's the sum total of your day. I've dealt with it as a grownup, and find it such a challenge to accept that people do this. That they'd rather comment on minor flaws than focus on the whole.

To me, that kind of focus is bass-ackwards; but it's pervasive. Do I teach her that it's bass-ackwards, or do I teach her it's the way it is and how to function within it? If *I* functioned like that, every day I had would suck, whether at work or at home. Everyone, grown-ups included, makes mistakes. Kids make a lot of 'mistakes', but these are less about error and more bout defining their place in the world. If all we focus on is the "bad choices" that kids make, and don't appreciate the whole, what are we really teaching them?

Personally, I can't get through a day without a little hairy eyeball.

Thanks, y'all, for your comments.

It's so hard to walk the line of advocacy vs. ... ... over protectiveness? over sensitivity? (over identification?) over reaction?

I don't want Bean to think that every time she encounters adversity or has a hard time with authority that it's okay to do her own thing without regard for others or that mommy (or daddy) will intervene on her behalf at the slightest sign of discord. But I also want her to know that I'm her advocate; that I think she's (to borrow a phrase of Kelly's that I love) pure magic; that I don't expect her to surrender who she is and what she wants to do simply because it's easier for her teachers (now or in the future) to try to force her to be like everyone else.

(Can you tell I was - probably still am - a bit of a rebel myself?)

I talked with the school Director a little yesterday a.m., mostly to get her input on brainstorming a solution. I dropped Bean off before, and she was resistant to going into her room, bypassing it entirely for the fab Miss Kate's room. Miss Kate was delighted to see her, and raved about how much she had enjoyed Bean's marching to her own drummer and that she missed her and wished she could have her in the class she teaches. If only. Miss Kate teaches their half-day program, and any hope I had of maybe sneaking Bean in there for the first half of the day faded when Kate said her M/W/F class is full.

She volunteered to let Bean stay with her so I could go talk to the Director, and Bean was thrilled.

My talk went well, but didn't really give me much more to go on/work with than what Bean and I had already discussed.

I talked with her teacher at the end of the day, and just got the same kind of "she needs to conform to our expectations" vibe. They insist that Bean has to lay quiet and still for an hour *without* reading or doing anything. If she can do that, then she can read. I still think that's unreasonable. For whatever reason, she won't nap in there unless she's exhausted (she napped yesterday after the 5:30 wake up) and asking her to just lay there, doing nothing, for an hour seems like a recipe for disaster.

Her teachers and I aren't going to see eye to eye on this one, I don't think. To me it just feels like they're doing this "because I said so" approach. But I'm reading one of my "your kid isn't just a pain in the rear for funsies, she might be gifted" books and it's telling me that I should be deferring to authority as an example ... I wasn't having as hard a time with it in her last class, because their approach was more "how can we adapt to her?" not this "she must adapt to us" mentality.

The teacher keeps throwing "well, when she's in kindy" out; the Director, however, told me flat-out that's not cool - Bean's 4 and it's September - if it was April or May, she'd be more accepting of the "getting them ready for kindy" mindset. So my internal resistance to that at least sees validation there ...

And her teacher told me she said to Bean "well, if you do that you won't be allowed to go to kindy" because Bean's always talking about how she wants to go to kindy, and how she needs to concentrate and learn so she's ready. It's not horrible, I know, but it still rubs me wrong that she says that to Bean.

The teacher also said "she's kicking us when we lay across her to hold her down" ... wha, wha, what?? Like I said, I get that Bean running around is bad, but this ain't the solution ...

Man, this is so hard. I'm fighting my own innate "f*ck authority" streak (I'm the girl who brings home a hand towel from every hotel just because I can and because I'm not supposed to), my defensiveness of my kiddo, my hatred for the whole "system" that by virtue of necessity, I guess, disadvantages kids that are outside the Bell curve. And with all of that the knowledge that I've got to somehow *not* teach her to resist authority any more than she already does or to reel just for rebellion's sake. You're right, Vivian and Julia, that there will always be a system. either she nor I have to like it, but we both need to operate within it.

Even if I happen think a world run by Bean would be way better than the world she's got to fit herself into.

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