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.

Wordless Wednesday

(I scheduled my Bean-related post for later today to give the darling Miss O a few hours in the spotlight. Check back around 5:45 central for more preschool ranting.)


This is a time of celebration: so sit still and be quiet.

What's that Bean? You want to get up at 5:30? You don't think it's a little ... no? Oh. Are you sure? Okay. Sorry, my brain's not processing things yet ... it's a little ... Yes. I'd love to play Ponies at 5:30 before I've had coffee. Love to.

At least Miss O is still asleep. But Bean's gonna be one tired, nap-refusing kiddo today.

I got the whole "she's smart enough to know that we can't discipline her here, so discipline has to come from home" lecture today. Because they refuse to give ground on their "Bean needs to lay quietly for two hours if she's not going to nap" instead of finding a creative solution. Is it just me, or is it entirely unreasonable to expect her to lay still for two hours? (Kels, I know your telling me how one of yours would get in trouble for this kind of stuff is one of the things that scared me about school ...)

I just think it's nuts for them to be mad at her for not being able to sit still for two hours. I don't know any grown ups who could do that, without fail, day in and day out. So when she gets tired of being shushed and laying there reading quietly, she snaps and scampers around the room, disturbing the other kids. *I get that that part sucks and needs to not happen* - what I don't get is why I'm expected to discipline her after they set her up for failure. I'm not. I'll talk to her about how she needs to sit and read quietly, but I'm not going to discipline her (and god knows what they want me to do hours after the fact anyways) for an expectation that seems completely unreasonable to me.

Am I wrong? Is it more important that they keep pounding her square peg self into that round hole? Am I setting her up for even greater struggles in kindy if she doesn't just do what they expect of her, whether it's reasonable or not?

There was a cat. A cat here and then there was, another cat.

Dating = blah. Entertaining and good on paper has yet to really translate to "kachow!" in person. They're nice enough guys, and seem to be into me, but I'm walking away feeling 'meh.' I don't know if I should do round two with any of them, or just say "good luck in your search" and move along.

Is internet dating just not realistic? And would you go on a second date if you were really only doing it because you'd feel bad for not trying more? Or do you just go with instinct? If you don't feel it on date #1, there's no date #2?

I'm thinking of a new approach, so here's where I'll be going in December.


At least it's football season ...

Coffee - the non-relationship drink of choice

Mommy: "Is dropping your Pony worth having a hissy fit over?"
Bean: "No. Love is the only thing that matters."

So in spite of my fears that I'm totally screwing her up, I get glimpses that I'm doing something right now and then. If she gets that love's all that matters, her mama might be saying a few things right.

In that spirit, I have a few coffee dates this weekend. I'm pretty excited; we've had some great email conversations, and they're animal lovers, so they have a few points in their favor already: intelligent conversation, they make me laugh and they like animals.

I thought it somewhat apropos when yesterday, as I took out the trash, I spotted something on the garage floor. It turned out to be a tiny little "love" charm that I had lost a few weeks ago.

Okay, totally *in*appropriate aside, but is anyone else completely unable to look at the word teabag without having Sex in the City flashbacks? And yet, someone actually used "Tea Baggers" in their Twitter status. No lie. And not in a SITC sense, which makes it doubly funny.

(And no, I am not defining/explaining this if it makes no sense to you. All I can say is that can be your friend.)

I am almost crying I'm laughing so hard right now. Nothing better than starting a morning with rain AND something like this.

Ah, the pitter patter of tiny feet in huge combat boots

Since the Big Girl's been dominating the posts of late, a brief moment for Thing 2.

(Photo taken by her Pinkalicious Big Sis)

She's been trying on pretty much every word you say to her, so while she still isn't very clear all the time, her vocabulary is expanding. She is still the belle of the ball at daycare, where everyone loves her in all of her sweet and tiny glory. She's a very generous kiddo there, doling out hugs and kisses to all, and sharing/playing really well with the other littles in her class. The comments from her 'teachers' are always along the lines of how well she participated in the activities, how much she enjoys playing and how well she gets along with the other kids. We had a couple biting incidents, with her on the giving end, and then karma came around and, well, bit her back. She had a couple bites from other kids, but that all seems to have leveled out.

She will go almost any woman who holds their arms out for her. At the grocery store the other day, she was having a hissy fit and another shopper stopped and said "Awww. You need to come home with me, you need a maw-maw." and held out her arms - Miss O walked right over and let the woman pick her up, then waved bye-bye to me and blew me a kiss. As the woman was a grandma, she naturally fawned all over O, and probably would have cheerfully taken her home for the evening had I asked.

I really wish my kids were more outgoing and less shy ... sigh.

I think O may need some speech therapy; we'll see when (if) I ever get her in to the doc for a checkup. I really need to stop saying I'll take her in and actually *make* the appointment, don't I?

I've been using gentian violet and some antifungal cream on her ringworm, and will strip the bed/crib and wash everything on hot with bleach while they're at Dave's this weekend. Dawn, I don't think she got it from the cats. Number one, these guys are 100% indoor and b, the spot is under her diaper on her hip. If she got it from them, it would be on her face, guaranteed. I've never seen a kid love on cats more, and it's always hugs and kisses.

She is the huggiest, kissiest kid - I get a gazillion hugs and kisses every day, and at night when we're going to sleep, she kissed me like 10 times after we've done lights out and I'm laying with them to sleep. And she falls asleep either on me or pressed against me. Since Bean snuggles in from the other side, I'm a well-loved mommy :)

But don't let the cooperative hugginess lull you into thinking she's a creampuff. She may be tiny, and look harmless, but under that diminutive exterior is one headstrong, opinionated and strong-willed little person. And I say that in the nicest, most positive way. Like her aunt before her, Miss O's motto should be "I may be small, but I'm tough."

(Honestly, I think it makes her just *that* much more endearing)

Lie to me.

Le sigh.

The behavior gods giveth, and the behavior gods taketh away.

Julia, were yours better today? Because Bean hooked her new teachers up with a dose of turdliness and I got the somewhat judgy "you can't negotiate with her, it has to be 'what I say goes'" kind of lecture.

But seriously, how do you not cut this face some negotiating slack now and then?

It's hard to see, but Bean's hair is very pink. The director at the school (the one person really seems to get Bean) took her to the wonderful Miss Kate's room so Bean could show off her hair :)

I know she's gotta be a pain in the rear to "teach", but damn, Sam, what's wrong with allowing her some negotiating room and some control? I'm not going to crack down and break her, if that's what the new teacher is expecting. Bean is Pinkalicious, Funkadelic and fan-freakin'-tastic at her core - and sooner or later, she'll mellow out a little.

Right? (You can lie to me if you need to.)

All that proper conduct is a con too heavy to bear.

Bean this a.m.: "Mommy, just let me get some privacy done. I have my booty all naked, so just let me get some privacy." {Closes bathroom door to, hopefully, do her bidness. And nothing else.}

In the bath last night: "These are vegetarian bubbles. Because he (the leopard) eats veg-uhs."

Ever have one of those days where your kids are just awesome?

When I picked the girlies up yesterday, Bean was in the 4.5-year-old room instead of the younger fours room. They had planned to do a gradual shift to that room, as she seems to have fewer issues there; but because she's so night and day, behavior-wise, between the classes, they just kept her there and did a cold-turkey switch.

The joy of *not* having a teacher tell me how many bad choices my big girl made in a day almost - almost - trumped the buzz kill of hearing that the little one has a spot of ringworm. Freakin' ringworm. And it's on her hip, under her diaper and under her clothes, so I'll be damned if I can figure out where she picked it up.

So, after a stop at the grocery store for antifungal cream (and don't think *that* didn't require a whole dissertation for the big girl, who has added 'antifungal', 'ringworm' and 'Uncle Fungus' to her word count), some chicken strips and some mac and cheese, we headed home. During the drive, I had the pleasure of watching Bean do her "funkadelic dance" to Henry Rollins' "Let That Devil Out". Now if that doesn't make a mama proud, I don't know what does.

Dinner was a breeze, followed by bathtime and all sorts of associated silliness from the kiddos.

It was just a great night to be a mommy. And one I totally, totally needed. Thanks girls!

Is it a-a gathering, a shindig or a hootenanny?

Overheard, Bean making a pretend phone call this morning:

Hi Daddy.
I ... hate mommy.
I want you.

All because I was just trying to do a little work and cram in some blog time in my first thirty minutes of the day.

Being the custodial parent is a world of different from being a noncustodial one, IMO. There's so little downtime, and I actually get 4 more days a month than most folks do. Typically, the noncustodial parent covers the first, third and (when it happens) fifth weekend, meaning the custodial parent often only has 6 days off a month. My usual is 10. The other 20 days are all mommy, all the time. Natch, there's a good chunk of mommy at work/kids in daycare but all the home time is all me.

And I don't have kids that give me free time when they're with me; I have to cajole, wheedle, sneak and sometimes holler to get a few minutes alone. I pee, they're there. I shower, they're there. I cook, they're there. I clean, they're there. And not just hanging out or helping, but incessantly talking/whining at me to stop whatever it is I'm doing and pay attention to them. Play with them. Listen to them.

Don't get me wrong, I really do adore them, but 20 days of the month, if I'm home, I'm not catching a break until they go to sleep. Which takes an hour of me being with them. And then it's 8:30 or so and I have about 9 hours before the next day starts. So it's constantly a choice of "do I sleep, or do I read/blog/write/clean?" And the personal time usually wins.

We had friends over today for a potluck; it's funny - you spend hours cleaning to have folks over, and within, what, about 15 minutes the kiddos have turned the place into something health inspectors would condemn, given half a chance. But it was awesome to see everyone and to get the kids together, and totally worth the cleaning :) I swear, I have the greatest friends!

I got to wrap up my day with two very sleepy and very snuggly girlies; we read stories and they both fell asleep pretty quickly (under 45 minutes) so I can sneak in a blog post and finish the post-get-together clean up then maybe grab a solid 7 hours tonight.

Wish me luck!

You even look pretty when you go to sleep

Lately Bean has been asking me to talk in my "sweet voice; the way (I) talk to Miss O".

Because O still doesn't talk a ton, I find myself using that exaggerated, smiley sing-song voice I used when both girls were under a year. It's not like I have to carry on 15- minute conversations with Miss O about why vultures eat dead things, where the higher-pitched sing-song voice is impossible to sustain, so O still gets the "sweet voice". She's also, ahem, not four, an age that takes my capacity for a "sweet voice" and beats it down, relentlessly, then kicks, hits and scratches it while it's lying there, twitching.

But fabulous fourness aside, it's a valid point, one that calls attention to how frequently my tone with Bean is either annoyed or exasperated, because I feel like I'm never listened to and I never get a moment's peace. And even when I talk in my regular voice, it's not like it's a high-pitched voice. Is her take-home message that I'm just sweeter and gentler with Miss O?

To compensate, I have started talking to Miss O in my regular voice. I just need to 86 the 'sweet voice' altogether, because for some reason "Vultures eat carrion, which means dead things. Can you say carrion?" just doesn't seem like something that should be said in a sing-song voice ...

I also made it a huge chunk of time before yelling today, and handled her major in-home meltdown by holding and rocking her, just letting her scream in my arms. We had a fabulous few hours after that, but then she flipped out at Lakeshore Learning when I told her I wouldn't buy her anything (not because she was 'bad', but because I'm not dropping $30 on another dozen horses for no occasion. I told her she could put it on her Christmas list). She was screaming and even walked uo and kicked me in the shin. *That* actually made me laugh, because for some reason it was really damn funny to see her brassed-off little self stalk over and kick my shin. I immediately curtailed the trip, and we left with her screaming at me the whole way.

When we got to the car, I realized she had left her talking Baby Cheerilee in the store, but there was no effin' way I was going back for it. When she said something, it just served as an easy way for me to drive the lesson home. I never once yelled or raised my voice, tho. Only when we got home, and O wouldn't nap and kept screaming at me and Bean of course couldn't sleep and I just wanted that time for *me* did I oller at them to go to sleep. Which is absolutely assinine, in case you ever wondered - yelling "go to sleep!" really doesn't help them calm down and close their eyes.

(For the record, I never claimed to be a smart mom. I believe I just say that I'm a "hot, single" mom.)

So I reassesed what it was *I* wanted (a little down time) and other ways I could get it. Which turned out to be letting them sit and ooze out a few more IQ points on the sofa while watching a "My Little Pony" movie. Meanwhile, I got some Facebook time, a few minutes to blog and a few minutes to just read email and drool on myself.

Camile, I love the "nap box" suggestion. She's not expected to sleep, but she is expected to STFU so the kids that want to nap, can. I'll try to put a small nap box together with quiet stuff. They do send her to other rooms sometimes, and actually she's usually quiet and sleeps in those rooms, go figure. I'd swear she just doesn't want to cooperate with these teachers for whatever reason ...

You'd think that there would be a quiet time room or something for the kids who are this age and a little older to go to. Mine can't be the only non-napper, but they probably just don't have the staff or the plan to accomodate that. Unfortunately, Bean's a sharer, so having a cool new book or coloring stuff will tempt her to talk about what she sees and does. But maybe there's some way to convince her to wait until the kids are awake to share with them.

It sounds like the Ponies have saved the kittens, rainbows and puffy hearts, or whatever it is pastel ponies do, so my time is drawing to a close. I hope everyone's having a fab 3-day weekend, and surviving the Fours.

I don't stand for this kind of malarkey in my house!

Thanks so much for the fabulous four-ness support, ladies. To all the moms who've survived the effing fours, my hat's off to you. To those of us still entrenched in them, I have vodka and gin.

And if anyone has any idea *how* I can get my big girl to sit down and be quiet when it's time for naps at preschool, I'd be eternally grateful. The school ixnayed my suggestion of tranquilizer darts, and the special horse book I sent with her doesn't do the trick. But she's consistently disrupting naptime and that has to make her (sained, IMO) teachers lives' miserable - not only do they have my expressive bundle of joy, they have a bunch of sleep-deprived four-year-olds to cope with for the afternoon.

I'm passing along the Kreativ Blogger award to two ladies whose blogs I love.

First, the endlessly talented Meredith over at the~spirit~of~the~river, whose writing is always breathtaking, creative and real.

I'm also tapping Theta Mom, Heather, because I love her blog and her authenticity.

Thanks again to Camile for the award, and to Meredith and Heather for the fabulous reading material!

I have a Ph.D. in horribleness!

So, we took Bean to see the therapist I was seeing post-divorce, and after observing Bean and hearing Dave and I do the rundown on the behavior issue, the therapist determined that Bean ...



is four years old.

Le sigh.

While I'm glad she's okay, that we haven't scarred her for life with either craptastic parenting or divorce craziness, I was kinda hoping ... I dunno ... psychosis. schizophrenia. hangnail. *something*. Something that was treatable through something other than me trying to be a better parent. Because, truly? Schizophrenia woulda been easier.

But me having to be more patient, not yell, not enter into power struggles with her? Me having to be more restrained, be a grown up? Ugh.

Today's title comes from one of my favoritest musicals, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. And it's on, so if you've missed it before, you can see it now. And I can watch it again. And possibly again. And maybe one more time.

Not to be Miss Psycho Pep Squad ...

Holy wow!

An award from the awesome Eclectic Mama, who, around these parts, is considered one of the primo AP parents and bloggers. I'm pretty proud and a little surprised. Thanks a bunch, Camille!

I'll pass it along on my next post.

I got almost *no* sleep Monday night. It was my own fault - I dozed off for like an hour with the girlies and woke up around 10:30. Ostensibly to go sleep in my own bed, but, tired as I was, I couldn't shut the brain off. So I read until almost 2:00, because I'm cool like that. Then Bean woke up a little, calling softly for me, so I had to go find her stuffed animal and then snuggle with her. It took another hour or so for me to fall asleep, and the little were up before 6:00. So maybe 3-4 hours sleep total?

Somehow, I managed to have a decent day, with regular caffeine infusions keeping me awake. I actually wasn't cranky, just mentally sluggish.

Needless to say, I just konked out with them last night and recouped some of my sleep losses.

Bean's got a therapy appointment today, so I'll fill y'all in on that later. Dave's going to try to join us, and I think we're mostly just trying to get a grip on whether the volatility and acting out is something we just have to learn how to parent, or whether we've screwed her up in some way.

After hearing from some other folks, though, it sounds like we're really not experiencing anything all that strange; and since most of my friends are raising kids without the extra baggage of divorce, I don't know how much I can "blame" on the divorce, anyways, ya know? I'm pretty much expecting to hear "she's normal, you guys just need to step up the parenting at your houses", but a small part of me wants to hear "whoo, doggie, she is deranged. Here's some lihtium ..." Because at least then there's something 'wrong' that can be 'fixed'.

If this is normal and I just suck as a mom, well, *I* may need the lithium.

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