Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Need to Get Back

So, I abandoned my blog for a while.  I'm not sure why, but I'm unabandoning it with a very honest post.
I think of this blog in many ways as my outlet, when I just need to anonymously vent about all things related in any way to parenting, or even my life.

We have hit a new chapter in parenting, and frankly, I need to share out of nothing but sheer frustration.

The biggest one is 10.  I had no idea that 10-12 was so freaking difficult.  It is.  If you have girls, when you get to this age, if you don't drink, you will, and if you do drink, have someone start watching you to make sure you don't get out of hand.  The stage is that hard.

This weekend, we had a big troop sleepover.  I'm not sure what started it, but something, somewhere set off a chain reaction with the big one that set off an atomic bomb of attitude, with a mushroom cloud of nasty behaviour that could be seen for miles.  It was off the charts.  I haven't seen her this bad since the last time her dad deployed and it got super ridic.
I'm seriously at a loss.
I managed to make it through the night.  All the parents in my home saw her behaviour.  I apologized.  I vented a little.  They empathized, but mostly, I was embarrassed and frustrated.  There was nothing I could do in the moment with 20 girls in my home who needed to have a good time, and 1 who was determined not to.
So, the dealing with it came the next day.
Yesterday, for the first time ever, I made The Biggest One scrub the toilets.  Seriously. I vowed a while back that this was the next direction her punishments would be going, and I stuck to it.  Taking things away seemed to be doing nothing.  Her arm has been broken (a story I need to blog about to catch you up anyway) for a while and she already lost out on her archery lessons until that is healed.  So, I really needed a new effective deterrent that I could go with.
Now, let me say that it was totally supervised, and frankly, I don't think there is anything harmful about cleaning a bathroom, at all, but at the age of 10, it sucks big time.  She hated every single second of it with a passion.  When we were all done, I ask her if she ever wanted to do that again.  It was a resounding no.  Then I told her to consider it every time she opened her mouth to be rude, every time she wanted to stomp out of a room, and so one.  From now on, the response would be to clean a toilet.  If you have crappy behaviour, you get a crappy punishment (see what I did there).  I feel it fitting.
Now, one of two things will happen, it will help some and she will think before she acts, or we will have the cleanest toilets in the world.  Either way, I win.
In all honesty, though, I'd much rather clean the toilets my self and have a daughter with improved behaviour.  Really.  In fact, I'll even take that for Christmas.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

She Is Going to Get Me Put In Jail

As we all know, or at least those of you who read my occasional blogging and those who actually know me in real life, The Biggest One is a bit of a klutz.  I'm being nice there.
I say it a million times: I love her just the way she is.  She is, though, very absent minded and ditsy at times.  She is very intelligent, just ditsy.  It really does work that way, I swear.

Last night, she managed another of her special moments, but one of the kind where she gets hurt.  We now live in a split level ranch home.  There are four stairs that go up to the bedroom area of our home.  I was up in that hall way with The Littlest One, and I told The Biggest One, for what had to be the 10th time, to get ready for bed.  She turned and started to walk down the stairs.  The next thing I know, there is a massive thud, and she is sitting at the bottom.  I did the momentary freak out while trying not to let them know I was freaking out thing.  I ask if she was ok.  She was startled and a little scared, but seemed to be mostly ok.  I ask her what happened.
She said she didn't see the bottom stair.  She just missed it.  Just like that.  Oops.  Didn't realize there were four there.  That kind of thing.  So, she crash landed at the bottom.
These things happen with her.  They do.  The problem is that she hurts herself sometime.  This time, she landed on her wrist.  It hurt.  It didn't swell.  It didn't seem to be too painful, just painful when she used it.  I told her to go to bed and it should be fine in the morning.  Also, please bear in mind that this kid is a total wimp and over exaggerates any injury to the millionth degree.  Seriously.
So, this morning, her wrist still hurt sometimes.  Again, only when she used it, etc, and mostly when people were around.
Now, don't get me wrong, if it turns out she has some kind of tiny hair line fracture, I'll feel terrible, but I really think she is ok.  She didn't want to use her wrist, though.  She wants to be careful, swearing that it hurts.
So, I had no choice but to write her teacher a letter.
The moment I started writing "Last night, she fell down the stairs" it hit me.
This kid is going to get me thrown in jail one day.  As much as she falls down, misses stairs, etc, you would think I beat her.  She, though, beats herself up.
I groaned.  I wasn't sure how to write the letter to make it sound least like an "I beat my child" letter.  While it certainly isn't true, I don't want anyone to think that, and this teacher, since this is only the second week of school and she is new here, doesn't know us well enough yet to know, this is just The Biggest One.
More than likely, she will ask what happened, at which time The Biggest One will get to tell this very dramatic tale about falling down a whole flight of stairs, and how she lay there, not sure if she should move, if she might have had a broken spine from the fall, and on and on.  Then, hopefully her teacher will get it.  The drama is all there.  That's just who she is, and again, I love her just the way she is, dramatic jazz hands, missed stair injuries, and all.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Oh, Boy Scouts, You Keep on Breaking My Heart

You know, I hate to say it, but the Boy Scouts just keep breaking my heart.
I love Scouting.  I really, really do.  I see all the good it can do in a child's life, and I believe in that good. I want to see that good.
It's hard, though, when the organization that is supposed to do all that good keeps doing things that make me sad.
The Boy Scouts have banned obese kids from their Jamboree this year.  This makes me very sad.

I love Girl Scouts.  I realize that no organization is perfect, it isn't possible, but Girl Scouts does so many things right.  My girls love it.  The Biggest One just came back from a week at camp, and she has decided that she wants to get her Gold Award, stay in scouts until she graduates from High School, and then work at the camp during the summer as her job when she isn't in school.  She loves it that much.

So, I looked at her, and told her, very basically, about what the Boy Scouts just did.  I didn't tell her who had done it.  I ask her if the Girl Scouts did this, how would she feel.  She immediately started to tear up. Her heart broke.  She said it was incredibly mean to leave people out like that.
I let her know that Girl Scouts didn't really do that, but Boy Scouts did.  We talked about it.  The Biggest One thought that was a horrible thing to do.  The Boy Scouts think that their new rule will be a motivational, and make the kids want to lose weight to go.  So, I ask her, would she be willing to work harder to go to camp, if there was a rule like this that would affect her, mind you she isn't obese at all.  She said it would make her not want to go to camp all together.  She wouldn't even want to be a part of it.  This, from the same child who just told me her goal was to be a part of that same camp forever.

See, Boy Scouts, you did it all wrong.  How about letting the fat kids come, and then trying to get them to be healthy there.  Did you also ban obese Scout Masters?  I mean, if you want to set a good example, how about starting there?
The Boy Scouts don't really have a good history with banning people. Perhaps they should have thought about how a ban on anyone worked out for them in the past, and considered the fact that bans on segments of your population tend to divide and not bring people together in a positive way.

Right now, I am doubly thankful for fact that I don't have to deal with all of this.  Girl Scouts wants to bring us together, not tear us apart, and I love them for that.
I sincerely hope that The Boy Scouts get things figured out quickly.  Like I said, I love scouting.  I love what it has the potential to do, and i would love to see that potential be brought back in all its glory with The Boy Scouts.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Update on the Netflix Situation aka Amazon rocks

A while back I posted about Netflix totally screwing over their customers and giving up on a hole bunch of content.  I was upset, and rightly so.
We had considered going to red box streaming, but hadn't figured out how just yet with the limited devices they have.
Then, it hit me, why not check out Amazon streaming?  I mean, I knew they had it, I had just never paid attention to it before.
Big mistake.
I should have been looking there all along.
We have an prime account, something I highly recommend.  It absolutely pays for itself in our house.  Now, I find out that streaming comes with it.  You can watch a ton of things for free, or, if you want, you can even rent, or buy the new stuff before it is available for free.  How awesome is that?  We don't even have to go get movies from Redbox anymore!  We can rent them right from Amazon!!
I say a big Woot, woot to that!
The kicker for me, though, is that the moment Netflix let their contract for all those Nickelodeon shows expire, Amazon picked them up.  That means Dora on tap again!!  Yeah!!  And there was much rejoicing as the sounds of angels, or The Fiesta Trio, filled the air.  Seriously.  We already pay for prime.  So this was incredible added value for us!!
On top of that, Amazon is constantly adding current content to it's streaming, an area where Netflix lags seriously behind.  Already, My Husband and I have found a new show we love to watch together on those rare nights we actually get to sit down and watch TV.  Something we would have missed out on with Netflix.
The ONLY down fall to Amazon's streaming thus far is that I can't get it on my phone yet.  Sometimes, if we are desperate, The Girls have watched netflix on either of our phones or on the Kindle.  Amazon won't stream to our phones, though I can stream, with a wireless connection, on the Kindle.  I just don't happen to have one of those everywhere I go.  I do have one on my phone.  Other than that, I have to say that Amazon has made me one seriously happy consumer.  Thrilled, actually.  I'm so over companies that think they can do anything they want to consumers, and we will just take it.  Don't let them.  Seek alternatives.  In this case, come join me at Amazon!  Its totally worth it!

P.S. In case anyone wonders, I am not paid in any way for my opinions here, I give them freely and liberally.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Thank you, Paula Deen, From The Bottom of My Southern Fried Heart

There are certain things, or people in this world that can easily move me to tears.  My mom is one of those people.   Without a doubt, I love my mom more than I could possible truly express in words, either written or spoken.  She has done more for me than so many would ever be willing to do.  She has given so much, and I don't mean things of monetary value, but things that are worth far, far more.
So, when something upsets my mother, I take note.
The other day, we were discussing the great Paula Deen witch hunt going on.  I do believe it is a witch hunt.  For whatever reason, people just want to take her down.  I'm not saying she is perfect, but I believe that reactions should be appropriate, and not outlandish.  It is, of course, one of those things that make you shake your head, but rarely do they have you truly emotionally upset, unless you are personally involved.
My mother, it seems, does take it very personally.
As we were discussing it, she became very upset.  Her words were almost shocking to me.  I had no idea how much she really likes Paula Deen.  Paula Deen means a lot to my mom in ways that I never understood.
Several years ago, my mom found out she had breast cancer.  It was bad.  She waited, though, until after I had given birth to her first grand child to allow any treatment to begin.  She wouldn't even tell us what was going on.  She, knowing that we had problems during the pregnancy, didn't want to take any chances of upsetting me.  So, three days after her first grandchild was born, she had a partial mastectomy.  After that, she started radiation and then Chemotherapy.  She did radiation for a few months, but years of chemo.  First a long bought of IV chemo, then pill form for years afterward.  It was a tough battle, but one that she has been victorious in so far.  She is a survivor.
It was also during that time that Paula Deen really came up in the TV world.  She was on TV all the time.  My mom, who works for herself in a very small business, hadn't ever had the time to sit down and watch much TV, until then.  She loved Paula on TV.  Paula was joyous and happy when mom was struggling to keep that herself.  She made great food, and my mom is a recipe addict.  She was uplifting to my mom in a time when she desperately needed that, just by doing what she wanted to do and being herself.  Paula Deen every day gave my mom something to look forward to when she wasn't allowed to leave the house, see her friends and family, or even go to church because her immune system had just bottomed out.
Paula Deen became a sort of friend to my mom, just through the magic of television.
Now, people have taken something that Paula Deen did years ago and blown it up beyond belief.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Everyone.  As Paula herself tried to say, and to paraphrase the Bible, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
She apologized.  She says she has mended her ways.
My mom says that as long as she meant it, then she should be forgiven.  That is good enough for God and if it is good enough for God, it should be good enough for all of us.
My mom believes in Paula Deen, and I believe in my mom.
So, to Paula Deen, I want to say thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, Thank you for being there for my mom.  Thank you for giving her joy in the hardest time of her life.  I appreciate you now so much.  Just like my mom, you may never know how many people's lives you have touch in ways that you will never know about.  I'm glad you were there, though.
Thank you.
I hope you keep having your cooking classes.  I would love to be able to send my mom one of these days.  She would love it.
I really hope you decide to self publish that cooking book that was supposed to come out.  This is one I would buy two copies of, one for mom and one for me.
I hope you come back, better than ever, so that you can be a great, smiling face that the world needs.
Keep your head held high, and please keep on being you.
And most importantly, thanks again, for all those smiles and laughs you gave my mom.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

You Hateful Bunch of .....UUGGH

(Alternative post title: "Don't ever go to CafeMom for support")

I'm not sure how else to say this, but how dare you?  How dare you be such a judgmental bunch of hateful people?
Of course, I'm not speaking to everyone out there in the whole wide world.  I'm speaking directly to those ass wholes (yes I said it) women out there who insist on tearing each other down for no good reason.
This is what I'm talking about.

Now, let me tell you, we all have tough days.  There are many days where I have cried into my pillow at night.  There are many times that I have hated how hard things are sometimes as a parent, but never would I lash out at someone for feeling like that.

What I would do is give this mom a big hug.  Maybe suggest a mom's group which can make a world of difference in your mindset.  Having other mom's tell you its ok and that we have all been there is something we all need to here from time to time.  I might tell her to go see someone, too.  I mean, parenting is hard, and sometimes we can all use a little help.

However, these bitchy moms think what they need is to tear this mom down.  What they need is a good smack of reality.  Words hurt.  A lot.  When you are reaching out for help, they cut like a knife.

These horrible women have wounded a kindred spirit for no good reason other than spite.
To all of you judgement people like that, I hope you never have a bad day.  I hope you never have a day when you need to complain about how awful moments in parenting can be.  When you do have one, I hope you remember how hurtful you were.  I'm sure you are far too self absorbed to realize any of that, though.  So, even though you have done something terrible, i really hope that when you do have a bad day, because we all do, that someone shows you more kindness and mercy than you showed.  The cycle has to stop.
We teach our kids not to bully, and now it's time that the mommy circle learns the same thing.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I Could Have Sworn I Was Born Here......

I'm going to give you all a little piece of unsolicited advice.  You may do with it what you will, but if you choose to print this out and cram it somewhere, I don't need to know about it.

The advice I am going to give you is absolutly unoversal, and should you chose not to heed it, could make your life much more difficult.

Never.  Ever.  Assume you know where someone is from, where they were raised, how they were raised, or their background.  Always let them, or facts, tell you.  
Assumning you know someone will undoubtedloy get you into troiuble.  Or  fight at a PTA meeting.

Tonight, as I was being jumped on, I was told repeatedly that I didn't understand something because I wasn't from the Bible Belt.  

I was born and raised in North East TN, which is much more of a Bible Belt than this is.  I was raised in a town that had a massive protest when Applebee's tried to open up because the sign was going to say "Bar and Grill" and bars are to be hidden, never put out on display.  This was when I was in High School, too.  Not back in the 50's.
I was raised in a Pentecostal church.  Look it up.  
I get the religious side of things.  
My sister happens to be an associate pastor at her church.  Not that her job means anything as far as my credintials, but I'm pretty sure that if I do something totally antireligious, she is going to call me out on it.  

Howwver, tonight, I kept being told I just didn't understand.  I just don't get it.  I am not from "here".  

I am right now, personally offended.  Perhaps I should take it as a total compliment that people don't view me as being from "here".  After all, if this is the land of religious zealots who don't want to understnad technology for fear that Satan is always behind a cmputer, then I'm good with not being from "here".  

What, you may ask, was all the hub bub about?

Bar codes.  
You know how everyone has a bar code for everything now.  There are bar codes on your grocery store cards.  There are bar codes on every product you buy.  Really, look around, and they are every where.  People even have apps on their smart phones to be able to scan them.
However, when it comes to membership in a organization I am part of, they just won't fly. 
Apparently, people here would totally reject it, and at some point in time in the very contentious discussion, someone likened them to the mark of the beast.  
I kid you not.  
I couldn't make that up.  

All of this was thrown at me, me the person who didn't even suggest car codes but had looked into the feasibility for someone else, because I couldn't understand people.  I am an outsider.  So, I took the brunt of everything.

I may not sound like people do here, or act or think like them.  I may be open to change and multiculturalism, but that doesn't mean I don't know anything about here, too.  I've lived more, experience more, and been through more than many people.
Do not assume you know me.

I get that a lot of crazy things happen in California.  People out there want to ban Oreos, and that stands as evidence enough of some of the goofy things that happen, but goofy things happen everywhere.  Like people flipping out about bar codes.  It just so happens, though, that people in CA wouldn't be afraid of bar codes.  They are much more open to people of different cultures and experiences, because everyone in CA is from a different culture or experience.
So, if you want to call me that mom from CA, go ahead.  I may have been born and raised in East TN, but if being open minded and forward thinking equals being from CA, I'll take it in a heart beat.
In the mean time, if you want to know what I think, how I feel, or about my experience in life, ask.  I'll be glad to tell you.  All the while trying to plan my escape back to California, land of people who embrace bar codes.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Netflix, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

I think Netflix has it out for me.
Actually, I feel like they want to see how far they can push their customer base repeatedly until they no longer have one.  They seem to love pissing off the masses.
Today, they succeeded with me.
A while back, when they switched all heir pricing plans, and lost tons of customers, people were pissed.  They decided that streaming and DVDs would be separate services, and cost much more individually than they had together.  OK.  Fine.  We didn't stream.  It totally sucked to lose that value, though.
THen, a few months ago, we were actually able to get a free trial of the streaming, and come to find out, we loved it.  They had all kinds of things my kids both would watch, and were actually allowed to.  In addition, they had Dora the Explorer on tap, and let me assure you, if you have ever parented a young toddler, Dora and Diego can be your best friends when you are at your wits end.  So, needless to day, we stuck with it.
I don't even bother turning on the Cable box about half the time anymore.  We just pull up Netflix, and turn it on Dora int he morning while I fix breakfast so that The Littlest One can get her fix, and I can actually get breakfast fixed.
We have loved it.  I have felt the service was well worth the extra money for streaming.
We did consider the new RedBox streaming service that is currently in Beta.  It is cheaper than Netflix.  You also get Redbox rentals which means current movies.  That meant there was way more value there since we pay separately for actual DVDs from Netflix.  However, RedBox doesn't have the Nickelodeon shows we love.  So, we stuck to Netflix even though there was a cost difference.
Then, today, they lay the whammy down.  No more Nick tunes.
Netflix decided not to renew a TON of stuff for their streaming.
All gone.
My baby is devastated.
I am devastated.
No more Dora while I fix dinner.
No more Dora when I am about ot pull out my hair.
Now, I have to get out the DVDs, turn on the DVD player..etc, etc, etc.  HASSLE.
I feel like they took back that little piece of sanity I had been paying them for.
So, I think I'm done.
With the whole thing.
They are now only slightly better than RedBox streaming, and only because of the ease of the devices.  Redbox is still in it's infancy, and hasn't caught up to all the things Netflix can use.  That's ok.  I will make it work while they keep adding devices.
Now, I will get to choose Redbox movies a couple of times a month, instead of constantly missing the mail lady and never returning my Netflix movies when I want to.
Yes, I see a major switch happening, and I hope lots of people follow.
Netflix has consistently shown that they don't care about their customers, because they were the only real game in town.
No more.
Red Box, get ready for some new subscriptions. I'm starting my free trial ASAP.

Friday, May 10, 2013

When Thank You Isn't Enough

I already got a little teary eyed this morning.  On top of that, I completely made a teacher cry.
You see, there are people in life who, whether you realize in the moment or not, will leave a lasting and far reaching impact on your life.
Teacher can be those people.
Not always, but sometimes.

Sometimes, you happen to be lucky enough to be blessed with a teacher that isn't just good, or even great, but is the kind of person who truly makes changes.
This year, we were so lucky to have gotten Middie's teacher.  It was kind of luck, too.
She wasn't the original teach for the year.  We were supposed to have someone totally different, who ended up being moved to forth grade due to enrollment numbers.  This meant that two weeks into the school year, our teacher was moved suddenly form First grade, where she had been told she was going to get to stay, to Kinder.

Not only was she moved, but she was given the most difficult class I have ever seen.  I don't say that lightly.  The class mix was absolutely not a balanced one, and even I could see it.  Additionally, from being the "home room parent" I can tell you that the parents are mostly not active participants with the school.  I couldn't get anyone to come in and help with just about anything, not even for parties.  I mean, we are in the south, and people wouldn't donate food.  That has to tell you how bad it was.  We love party food here.  It's sort of a religion in itself, and yet, I had to beg and over compensate.  It is that bad.  So, she had little to no help all year long.

Yet, through it only, she didn't just choose to persevere, she chose to blaze.
This teacher came in and saw a flawed system.  She wanted better, not just for her class, but for every child there.  She knows that Kindergarten is truly the foundation of the rest of their educational careers, and she was determined to give every child at this school the strongest foundation that they could possibly get.
She advocated for change.  She fought for the kids.  I can not imagine what all she has put into that school this year, but I do know that every child in Kindergarten this year, and every year to follow, is better for it.
So, you see, I don't think there will ever be adequate thanks for all of that.  I would give her a medal if I could.  I should have nominated her for every single teaching award I could find.  Even though no one else may proclaim it, and all of those children who's future's have been changed may never even realize it, I know that she is truly the Teacher of the Year.

When it came time for teacher appreciation week, there was no way I couldn't give back.
I sent out a note asking all the parents to donate to a class gift, and letting them know it was teacher appreciation week.  Of course, if they won't donate food, I didn't expect much.  I did get a couple of donations.  That was great.  Regardless, as to who did or didn't help, though,she was getting a good thank you.
On Monday, when I covered the class for her during new Kinder registration, I took a blank white card and had all the kids in the room sign it.  I took it home to scrap it.  On Tuesday, she got a big, gorgeous, potted flower from us.  I took the donations we got, I ask for a Starbucks coffee theme since she has a coffee pot in the class, and put it in a cute container she can use in class.  In addition to the coffee and mug we had, I put a few other things in, along with the card from the class.  We also left her a little gift certificate in the book fair going on in the library for her to buy a book or two for the class.

This morning  I took everything into class.  I stood at the door and ask for two of the kids.  I had them give it to her, and tell her it was from the whole class.  She read what was written for her, and started to tear up.  She came over to give me a hug, and I started to cry.  I told her from the bottom of my heart that there would never be enough thanks for everything she has done, and said some of the things that I said here.  She is truly inspirational.
She is the kind of teacher that we all wish for when we send out kids to school, and we were lucky enough to get her.
I am thankful.  Now, and always.  Thank you for helping my child love school.  Thank you for giving her the best education you could.  Thank you for being kind.  Thank you for being generous.  Thank you for really making a difference that will be felt forever more.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Crisis of Car Seat Conscious

I'm in the midst of a serious car seat dilemma, or at least it feels that way.  I happen to be a bit of a car seat snob and zealot.  Not totally, but maybe a little.  I only buy very good seats (read really expensive, too).  I know that the quality of the car seat actually matters.  I have a brand that I prefer as soon as they are out of the carriers.  This particular brand allows for both extended rear facing and extended harness use.  Both of which are very important to me.  Currently, The biggest One, my 9 year old, is still in a booster.  She hasn't hit the weight limit yet.  So, I see no point in changing that until she does hit the weight limit.  As a side note, she is only a few pounds away, and I will be totally heart broken when I have to take her out of the booster. Middie, who is now 6, is still in a 4 point harness.  The car seat allows up to 80lbs, I think, for the harness.  She is no where near that.  So, she will be in the harness until she out grows the seat via height.  She will then be moved into a booster.  Her older sister was only switched over just before she turned 8.  Yup.  I had a seven year old in a harness. The Littlest One is still rear facing at 23 months and 28 days.  She will be 2 this weekend, and I am really considering turning her around.  I know that rear facing is so much safer, and new guideline say that they should rear face until at least two.  My heart and head are totally conflicted. The problem is, in my older model Ford Expedition, I can't get the car seat to sit well rear facing.  It just seems like it is in a very odd place or angle for her.  Due to that, I think she may be better off forward facing.  The thing is, we have another vehicle where she fits just fine rear facing. My Husband likes for me to drive the Expedition.  He feels like it makes more sense and is safer due to it's large size (though I tend to disagree with that portion).  Anyway, the thing is, once I flip her, I flip her in both vehicles, not just one.  Once she forward faces, I know she won't want to go back.  She already hates riding in the car (total car screamer).  I am pretty sure that forward facing will cut down on that at least a little.  That means there is no going back when we switch vehicles back and forth.  She won't have it.
So, what to do?  Do I drive the truck with less room, but allows her car seat to seat safely rear facing all the time?  Do I go ahead and flip her?
I may also, in total honesty, be feeling a little bummed about turning her around because she is my baby.  Turning her means she isn't so much of a baby anymore.  Since we won't be having any more babies either, it makes everything like this just a little more difficult.
I'm having a total mommy conscious moment.  I've had a few of those, lately, but this one is going to have to be addressed this weekend.

**I don't need any feed back about how she must be getting cramped rear facing, or how that it "looks unsafe".  Extended rear facing is safer.  Fact.  No arguments.  If you aren't aware of how much safer, you should read up on it.  If there wasn't the issue of the poor position in the one vehicle, I wouldn't even be considering it.**

Monday, April 22, 2013

Its TCAP Baby!

For about the last two weeks, life at school for The Big Girls has completely changed.  It has been taken over by TCAP mania.  For those who aren't from the great state of Tennessee, that would be the name for the state standardized testing here.  It is seriously insane.  I know there are standardized tests in every state, and The Big One must have taken them in CA, but I have no real memory of them.  So, they didn't stand out as a huge deal.  Here, though, you can't help but know about them.  Even people who don't have kids know it is TCAP week in TN.  Seriously.
Its starts with rally preparations.  First, the school becomes completely devoid of all letters and numbers.  The rules here state that the children not be allowed to see any letters or number (not a joke).  So, every single thing with writing on it of any kind is either covered up with plain black paper or removed.  The school looks terrible.  It is both creepy and sad.
So, to make up for it, they try to make a big party atmosphere for all the kids taking the tests.  We have a massive pep rally the Friday before TCAPs start.  At our school, each grade comes up with a song, a parody of something popular on the radio, and rewords it to have a TCAP theme.  Middie's was TCAP Baby, Which was actually a parody of Call Me Maybe.  This isn't the same version that our school sang, but I have to share this video here.  I mean, after all, if teachers are willing to do this for their kids, you have to give them some serious love, and share it with the world.

This also gives you an idea of what I am talking about.
See, craziness.
Every day, the teacher on morning drop off duty has held a count down sign letting us know how many days left until TCAPs.  This whole week, Middie will be in a different classroom. Since her teacher has proctored TCAPs before, they are moving her to help with the older kids this week.  Her class is being divided up and put in the other Kindergarten class rooms for a week.
The Big One's teacher sent home a note asking us to send in snacks and water for the whole class.  We went to Costco and sent in a huge thing of mini water bottles and cheeze its in individual bags as per her request.  They were told that they could chew gum this week, and even take off their shoes, or do what ever else made them feel most comfortable.

One of the biggest signs that TCAPs were coming, though, is that for the last week to two weeks, the kids who have to take the tests, Kinders are exempt from TCAPs, haven't really been doing normal school work.  They have only been prepping for TCAPs.  They have taken practice test after practice test.  They have studied the material that should be on the test, and only that.
School has basically come to a screeching halt so that these kids can get the best possible score on the test.

Now, call me crazy, but I think somewhere along the line, someone missed the point.  Actually, I think everyone has in charge of this missed the point.  Instead of teaching a well rounded curriculum and hoping that the kids do well, the schools here are literally teaching for the test and only the test.  I know it isn't all the fault of the schools and especially not the teachers, but of a system that has really lost its focus as well.  The teachers are doing what they have to do.  There must be a better way.
I'm not sure what it is right now, but I know broken when I see it, and clearly, the way we are teaching our children is broken.  We should be doing better for them.  We should have the best educational system in the world, and I am so sorry that we are failing at that.  Perhaps it is the people who come up with these systems and rules who need some testing, not the students, at least not like this.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cheating The Littlest One

Even though The Biggest One was born in South Texas, she was raised in San Diego.  Middie was raised there, until we moved here.  Though she was young when we moved, I think she will keep a lot of memories of our time there, and certainly the impact of all the things we did, and her experiences will carry forward with her.  The Littlest One, though, she won't remember San Diego, at all.  She was so small, that the fact that she was born there will just be something written on a piece of paper to her.  She is a Native San Diegan by word only.
That really breaks my heart.
I love San Diego.  I love the culture.  I love the atmosphere.  I love all that there is to do with my children.  I tried to take advantage of a lot of that, too.  As a result, I think I gave The Big Girls a pretty well rounded life experience before they started kindergarten.  I don't really believe that preschool is in any way necessary for a young child's development, and as long as you give them a great, well rounded life experience before school starts, they should be just fine, and maybe even fantastic, by the time they are ready to start school.  I think I was able to provide that for The Big Girls.  We did Sea World and the San Diego Zoo.  They were able to see all sorts of fantastic animals and shows.  They were able to learn a lot about the world around them.  The San Diego Zoo, one of my favorite places on earth, has a great program for moms groups.  They bring you in a little early before the zoo opens, and take you on a special tour of the zoo.  Each month there is a different theme and you get to learn about something very cool.  There was even story time at the end of each session.  It was fantastic.  The kids get to be exposed to so much that way.  We were doing that with our group every month before we left, and it was  seriously great.  We went to parks all the time.  We got out.  We played with out friends.  We got fresh air and exercise on a regular basis.
All that life experience is invaluable.
Now, though, we aren't in San Diego.  The weather is crappy most of the time.  We don't get to see the sun much, and it is freaking cold here during the winter and spring.  That means no outside time.  We rarely go outside, unless it is to run from the house to the car.  It sucks.  There is a Zoo, but it is more like a petting Zoo.  Besides, no other zoo compares to the San Diego Zoo.  IT really is the best.  There certainly isn't a Sea World anywhere near by.  We do have an aquarium, but there were a few of those in San Diego as well.  The fact is, there just isn't nearly as much to offer here as there was there.
The culture is also much different.  We are seriously lacking in cultural diversity here as compared to San Diego.  Seriously.  I went to the best Asian market we have here.  It was about the size of a convenience store.  That was it.  I guess I should be thankful we have one at all.
We just don't have what we are using to having in San Diego anymore.
I feel like The Big Girls got so much by living there, and by moving here, we are cheating The Littlest One out of all those opportunities to explore the world.  It isn't fair to her that she won't get to see dolphins any time we want, or check out a polar bear on a beautiful, sunny day. I wonder how it will affect her development as a person later on in life.
I can see a stark difference in the children who were raised here and The Biggest One.  They are already very close minded when it comes to anything that is different.  Telling them that a food is from another culture makes it gross, not interesting.  When they meet people who are new are different, and it takes a long time to welcome them in.  They simply haven't been exposed to anything, and have parents who aren't opening their world up, either.  It makes me sad.

The other day,  The Biggest One and I were watching Chopped.  One of the contestants said that she really needed the money because her partner was about to have a baby.  The Biggest One said that was really nice that she would just give that money to her friend.  I very simply told her that wasn't what partner meant.  It was more like a girl friend or wife.  The Biggest One's reply was "Oh, ok."  She just didn't get the term.  There was no big discussion needed.  There wasn't an astounded reaction.  She knows that any one can love anyone they want to because she has seen it with her own two eyes.  She knows there are two mommy households, and that isn't anything new or odd to her at all.  It's just a part of life as she knows it.
That is what I want for my kids.  I want them to love and respect diversity, and I fear greatly that they will miss out on all that by being here.

I'm really trying hard to find the good in our new home.
We do have some fantastic lakes, two huge ones really, with tons of parks around them, and even a make shift beach.  We have some other nifty attractions like the Lookout Mountain.  There is a lot of camping and hiking that can be done.  We also have a great Discovery Center that I think would actually put the Reuben H. Fleet to shame sometimes, or at the very least rival it well.
That's it, though.  So, I will have to seek out the best of our area that I can to try be the best parent that I can be here.  We can go down to Atlanta and visit their Aunt, to see what Atlanta has to offer.  We can hit the parks when it is warm.  I'll do the best that I can do with what I have, and hope, that I can give her what she needs, even if it isn't what I want.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I Wrote an Angry Letter

When we moved here, we rented this house almost entirely because of the schools it was zoned for.  Most of the schools here are crap, and I mean crap.  We picked a house outside of the city limits just because it happened to have a very highly rated school.  The PTA seemed to be super active.  Their academic scores were great.
I have to say though, that I have realized so much of your experience really depends on the teacher you get, and there are great teachers, and not so great teachers, at every school.
If I were able to separate the experiences I have had with Middie and her teacher, and The Biggest One and her teacher, I would swear we are talking about two different schools.  Middie has had a great year.  Her teacher is fabulous.  Really.  I am in there helping as often as I can.  I would do anything for this woman.  She has the worst class out of all the Kindergarten classes because of the way classes were selected last year, and honestly, she does a fabulous job with what she got.  Middie loves her and loves school.
The Biggest One, not so much.
I have actually spoken face to face with her teacher four times, but in those times, I can tell you that I have been labeled a pain in the butt, and I am totally disliked by this woman.  I also think she doesn't likes The Biggest One, though I would never let her know that.  It just shows in her actions.
Our first time talking was the first open house about the first or second week of school.  I offered to help her with anything I could.  She already had a home room parent.  So, I let her know that I scrap booked, and I would be glad to make things for the class, come in and help with paperwork, really anything I could do, just please let me know.  That was pretty much it.  She never said she wanted help.  Never communicated with the me.  I have since learned that her home room parents take care of everything, even the food for parties which I have to beg to be allowed to help with.
Even though we haven't spoken, I was learning a lot about her.  I realized that her demeanor in class wasn't exactly what I would have wish for in a teacher for The Biggest One, but that's just how it works.  We are all different people, and I just let all the fart jokes she makes, and that type of thing go, thinking it was tacky, but sometimes we meet tacky people, until she made a big boob joke.  The class was working on improper fractions, where the number on the top is bigger than the number on the bottom, and she called them Dolly Parton fractions.  When I was helping The Biggest One with her homework, and she called the fraction that, I nearly flipped my lid.  I ask where she heard that, and she said her teacher.  I couldn't believe that a teacher would make a boob joke like that to her class, not at this age.  I was totally offended.
My intent was to talk to her about it at a parent teacher conference, which was coming up.  However, when we got there that night, my plan flew out the window.  The second time I spoke to her was this night.  She had requested the conference.  She said that she wanted to talk to us about The Biggest One's personality.  She explained that in the beginning of the year, The Biggest One was being picked on some.  She told her to stand up for herself, and she felt like that advice had been taken too far.  Now, The Biggest One was sort of like a brick wall.  She always took definitive charge of any group they were working in, and wouldn't always take her classmates ideas into consideration.  She was bull headed.  I ask if my child was being rude or inappropriate to her, because that wasn't ok.  I happened to know, though, that the kids she wasn't listening to were the kids who were picking on her the worst.  She was taking charge and refusing to listen to them as a defense mechanism.  She wasn't about to give them the chance to be mean to her when she had to work with them, which was all the time.  The teacher said that in her classroom, she expected everyone to get along and like each other.


This is the real world.  Those kids aren't all going to like each other.  They can all be civil to each other, but that doesn't in any way mean that they will get along all the time or actually like working together.  You can forget that.
Anyway, the seriousness that she approached the issue totally took me off guard.  I know the The Biggest One is bossy.  I live with her every day.  In part, that is absolutely my fault, and I even told her teacher that.  I explained that as a military child, whose father has been gone most of her life, she had to often take charge of a lot of things that other kids haven't.  That was her life.  That is how she has been raised.  I don't think that is bad, either, but I do think it makes her different than a lot of kids these days, especially those not raised in that environment.  Last year, if she was being bossy, her teacher would make some kind of humorous comment to me as I picked her up, to let me know we had an extra bossy day, and The Biggest One and I would talk about it.  We would work on it.  That's all that was needed.  One sentence. One statement.  We understood and tried to work on it.  Instead, I get a fed up teacher who eventually tells me that maybe I should take my daughter to see the guidance councilor, then, if she has had such a hard time.

I think it was about that point in the conference that my husband got up and walked away.  He didn't want to be present for any more of our discussion.  At that point, it was two brick walls just banging against each other, both of them saying the same thing over and over again, with nothing really being heard.

And I totally forgot the big boob thing.

Anyway, after that, our only two other face to face interactions have been very positive.  I ask to come in and make ceramic Christmas ornaments with her class, something I do every year with my girls' classes if I can, and which she let me do.  I also saw her on math night, and we chatted a little.  It was pleasant enough.

So, this week, when she went off script again, I just about lost it.

I had to write a letter to another teacher, The Biggest One's science teacher.

I know this post has already been long, but hang with me a bit more.

Every week, we have Girl Scouts on Tuesday right after school in Middie's kindergarten classroom.  Her teacher put both of her daughters in my troop, and she helps me out.  It is awesome.  So, all of my troop girls come straight into the room after school, and the ones on that hall are actually in there before school is totally over since they come in when all the other kids are getting in their bus rider/car rider lines.  I have to be in that room right away while the teacher takes care of her dismissal duties.  It isn't a big deal normally, and most of my girls come right in.  The Biggest One, though, is almost always my last one in.  The problem is that they won't always let her come.  Some days they make her sit in the car rider line until those kids start leaving before she can go, even if the bell has already rung.  I wrote her teacher a letter reminding her that I was in the class room we meet in and couldn't get her from the line.  I really needed The Biggest One to be dismissed to come straight to me.  After my letter, that's what she did.  Since dismissal duties rotate, though, she isn't always there.  The other teachers don't just let The Biggest One go.  She has to ask each teacher when she can go, and then they tell her that day what she can do.
This past week, it didntt work out.  The Biggest One ask a teacher, and heard "after the bell rings".  What she didn't hear was "wait until the car riders start leaving" because of all the other kids talking.  Regardless, she waited until after the bell rang, which meant school was over, and came to me in Girl Scouts.  She was early.  She was happy.  Then a boy came to the door and told her to go back to her science teacher.  In about two minutes, my child walked back in to me, hysterical.  She was sobbing and couldn't stop.  She said that this teacher had jumped all over her.  I know the teacher is very strict, and comes across as pretty mean.  The teacher told her that she hadn't listened and would be sitting out recess the nest day.  My child was horrified.  She tried to explain that the other teacher she had ask to leave that day, a fifth grade teacher, not even the teacher who called her back to yell at her, said she could go after the bell rang, but this teacher refused to listen.  She didn't want to hear anything from my child.  My child did wrong, and she was in trouble.  Period.  End of story.

I don't think so.

I was mad.  If The Biggest One really did something wrong, I would expect her to be punished at school.  However, I don't think misunderstandings, especially when you are talking about inconsistent policy, should count.  Most importantly, though, is the fact that this woman chose to punish her with out ever listening to her.  That isn't ok with me.  In fact, they yelled at her for asking to go every week in this whole debacle.  It was clear that it was irritating to them she needed "special treatment".
I had to make it through an entire Scout meeting super pissed and not let my kids know.  That was hard. It took everything I had not to just walk down the hall and speak with her science teacher right then.
Instead, I talked to my husband that night, and decided to write a letter to the science teacher, the one who chose to punish her.  I slept on it to have time to think and calm down.
I wrote very carefully.  I said that it had been a misunderstanding.  I said that the biggest problem was the inconsistent policy.  I ask that every teacher give her the same dismissal routine, even if it meant that should would be the latest in the room, just so that The Biggest One would have a clear set of instructions to follow each week ,and she could stop asking them what to do.  I did say that she was almost always the last one in the room, and I would like to see her dismissed when the bell rang, like her teacher does, but if they feel that is unsafe for any reason, that we would take what ever was best.  I also said that if there were more concerns, then I would be glad to meet with the teachers who have dismissal duty over her, and the principal if needed, so that we could come up with a safe plan of action for dismissal for the rest of the year that would work for everyone.
It wasn't mean.  It was firm, but there is a huge difference.
I had my husband read it, and let me assure you, when it comes to my being bitchy, he can spot it from a mile away and would never fail to call me out on it.  He said the letter was fine.
So, since I had missed writing it by the time they left, I took it in to school.
There is a great little side story about me seeing this teacher as I was getting there, but I will save that for later.
For now, what you need to know is that I got it to The Biggest One right before lunch and recess when she was supposed to stand with her science teacher.  She went back to class, and before recess, she ask her teacher if she could go ahead and give the letter to the other teacher.  Her teacher ask to see it and read it first.  That pisses me off right there.  It wasn't addressed to her.
She read it, and according to the Biggest One, made a big eyed face.  She called the other teacher over, and said, "Here, her mom wrote you an angry letter."

I will let that sink in for a second.

You good?

Ok.  She said, in front of my child, that I wrote her teacher an angry letter. I ask if she had been kidding.  The Biggest One showed me the face she made three separate times.  She was absolutely not kidding according to my child.

Well, if I wasn't angry before, I was the moment my child relayed this.
It wasn't an angry letter.  I promise you.   Even if it had been, that was totally inappropriate to say in front  of my child.  You can bitch about me behind my back like all the people who have sense do any time you want, but not in front of my child.  What she did was just set up an adversarial position for the two of us.  She said I did something mean to that other teacher.  The teacher parent relationship should never be adversarial, and setting it up that way goes against the grain of everything I think schools work for.

How dare she.

So, this time I decided to take a couple of days and cool down.
I'm thinking a conference with the principal is actually in order.
That really wasn't ok with me.  I don't know exactly why she dislikes me so much.
I swear that if you got Middie's teacher together with The Biggest One's, and had them each describe me as a parent, you would think they were talking about two totally different women.  I would do anything for the school and my girls' classes that I could.  If you know me, you know that.  Last year, I went in no less than once a week for a couple of hours with two kids in tow to do paper work in the parent room because I feel it is my responsibility to help out any way I can.  That's my job.
Instead of viewing me as an asset, though, for some reason, she has chosen to make me an obstacle.  It honestly makes me want to cry.  I just want to help, not to be treated with out respect.
Anyway, this post has been super long.  Sorry.  If you made it through, thanks.
I'll let you know what happens from here.  I'm hoping for some kind of better.  Any kind of better.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Grand Middle

Yesterday was The Big Little One, aka The Middle One, aka Middie, 's birthday.
She turned six years old.
It makes me want to cry a little.  I realize six isn't that big, but it is, in many ways.  In just a couple of months, she will be out of kindergarten, and on her way to first grade.  She won't be a little girl any more, really.  For some reason, in my head, while The Littlest One is the baby, I see Middie as my baby, too.  It feels like just yesterday I brought her home from the hospital.  I have all these beautiful memories of her just being such a snuggly baby.  She still is a snuggler.
She really is a fantastic kid.  Middie is smart cookie.  She is an avid reader, which I love.  She is fantastic at math, which is really fantastic since it means I don't have to help her with it.  She has a sharp wit, much like her Father's, and a great sense of humor.
I love this kid.
She amazes me all the time.  I look at her, and I really wonder where she will go in life and what she will do, because I see in her the potential to do anything and do it very well.
I am very proud of her already, and I know her future will be amazing.  I'm just so happy that I get to be a part of it and watch her grow!!

Love you, Middie!!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Not Enough Wine In The World

Let me make one thing really clear, I really don't drink.  Like ever.  I'm not opposed to it, I just can't afford the extra calories every day.  Not only that, but with three children, I'm really afraid that if I started, I wouldn't ever stop.
You see, when you have all daughters, and in particular one who is about to turn 10, there are enough hormones running rampant through your home to stave off menopause for at least 10 middle aged women.  Seriously.  It's like all hormones, all the time right now.
     The Big One is killing me.  A little at a time, but I swear she is taking years off my life.  She goes from super pissed to crying in about 0.2 seconds these days.  Her bad attitude is off the charts.  She is a total angsty, moody teenager three years before we should have hit this, and I just do not get it.  The other day, I made her cry because I told her she was being a pout pout fish.  If you haven't ever seen it, there is an adorable children's book that we love, The Pout Pout Fish.    I paraphrased some lines some lines for her, telling her that she was a Pout Pout Fish with a Pout Pout face, spreading dreary wearies all over the place.  Then I ask her to turn her frown upside down and be a Kiss Kiss Fish with a Kiss Kiss face and spread cheerie cheeries all over the place instead.  That is all straight from the book, and totally cute.
I suppose I just spoiled the ending of that book for you if you haven't ever read it, but still totally worth the read.
     Anyway, from that, I was told that I was mean, because I was name calling.  True, I did call her a Pout Pout Fish, but......Seriously?  I mean, SERIOUSLY?
The point of quoting the silly book to her was to make her smile.  I wanted to make her giggle and tell me I was being silly, and I would even take an eye roll with an exasperated "Mooommm" as long as there was at least the start of a grin.

But no.

Instead, I got tears and to be told how mean I was because I called her a Pout Pout Fish.
I know in my head that this is going to get progressively worse.  I realize that we haven't hit our hormonal stride yet, but I do not understand how it could be worse.
I don't know how I will handle it.  I am afraid that she will spend years 10 through 17 locked in her room.
It is amazing to me that so many girls survive puberty with their moms.
I look back, and I'm trying to remember myself at this age, but I think I have blocked it all out at this point, and probably for good reason.  I think I need to find a new moms group, stat.  I see lots of late night mom's night outs in my future, if either of us are going to make it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I Don't Need Your Reality Check, Thanks.

Sometimes, we all have to choose our battles and struggles in life.  Some battles, we choose not to fight, knowing the outcome isn't worth the struggle.  Some battles, we do choose to fight because we feel we have to.  Some we choose to fight because we feel we need to, and have to and need to are different.
The thing is, no matter why you choose to fight your battle, or what your battle is, the idea behind the choice is that you hope for a good outcome, maybe an outcome that will in some way, be it big or small, improve your life.

Right now, I am choosing to fight a battle that would have a huge impact on our lives.  Massive.
If I can just fight hard enough, or even figure out how to fight this one, and win, our lives could get put back on the right track.  This is something we as a family desperately need.
So, why in the world would someone choose to constantly remind me about how hard this is going to be, if not impossible?

Let me assure you, I already have enough pressure and feel enough stress over everything going on that I don't need one iota of extra crap from anyone else.  Seriously.
I don't understand why, women in particular, feel the need to drop someone else down a peg when they are already struggling.

Honestly, we do it all the time.  We make noises, click our tongues, or just tell people how hard things they want to accomplish will be and let them know we don't hold out hope for them.  The phrase "good luck with that" isn't usually said to actually wish someone luck, but used with a sarcastic tone to imply that we think something will never come to fruition.

Then, we wonder where kids get their bullying skills from.
Why can' we just build people up anymore?  What happened to genuinely wishing someone luck, and hoping with them that against all odds whatever they want and need, as long as it is good for them, will actually happen?  Moreover, what happened to helping out our fellow man?
I really don't like posts that are full of questions with no answers.  However, this time, I just don't understand and I have only questions with no answers.

So, I think we should all take a moment to think before we speak sometimes.  We should all try to build people up a little more.  Let's all try our best to encourage each other, and be kind.  Who knows what you may be discouraging and keeping from happening with your clicks and false wishes. If only we would all try to be a little kinder to our fellow man, what a different world this would be.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Things That Go Scratch In the Night

Normally, I am the last one up in our house.  Most nights, you can find me sitting at the dining room table, where I have the laptop with a heater turned on, browsing the web, replying to emails, working on some project, or otherwise just waisting time on the internet.  From my seat, I can hear all the doors open, and my children moving around.  Its a good place to sit, most of the time.

However, it not only lets me hear my kids, but also anything else that goes scratch in the night.  

We have a lot of little wild life around us.  We do live in a more rural than urban area.  We have about a billion squirrels that live in our front and back yards.  We have the most beautiful birds like robins, cardinals, and blue jays, that will just land somewhere in our yard so that you can watch them.  We have found a turtle, and often see neighborhood pets out who have gotten loose.  Once, a horse even made its way into our front yard.  No.  Really.  It is actually really great for The Littlest One.  She loves to watch the animals.  So far, squirrels and birds are her favorites.  After all, the horse doesn't wander by every day or that would be her favorite for sure.  
With all of those animals, you often hear things running across the roof.  It is a little weird at first, but you get used to it.  Occasionally, a bird or squirrel wanders onto our screened in back porch somehow, and we have to help them out.  Little things like that are no big deal.  What is a big deal, though, is when those little animals make their way inside our home.  

I'm not sure if I've posted about this before, but I HATE mice.  Hate them.  Can't handle them.  It isn't so much a fear, but the fact that they gross me out beyond all belief.  Just looking at one makes me want to bleach my entire body.  If I know a mouse touched something, I throw it away.  No amount of washing will ever take that knowledge out of my head.  

Late, late one night, right after we moved in, a saw a little tiny mouse run across my kitchen floor while I was sitting in my dining room seat at night.  I freaked out.  The next morning, my husband caught it and took care of it.  It took me days to calm down, though.  We also called our a pest control guy, the one who explain how deer hunting worked to me, to make sure the problem was taken care of.  I wouldn't open up the cabinet under my kitchen sink, where it had been hiding, without being totally prepared to jump and run for quite a while.  Eventually, though, it did get better.  I even keep just a couple of things under there now, at the front of the cabinet where I can easily grab them, of course.  

Then, last night, it happened again.  

I was sitting in my chair and I heard something.  At first, I thought it was one of The Girls stirring, and that I was about to see one walk in and tell me they couldn't sleep, didn't feel well, etc.  No one came in, though.  I kept working.  Then I heard it again.  This time, I realized it was more of a scratching sound.  I got up, walking into the kitchen quietly and listened.  There was total silence.  Just when I thought I was imagining things, I heard a very distinctive claw on wood sound of scratching from INSIDE one of my cabinets.  I immediately flew to my bedroom, not caring that The Littlest One was asleep in there, and begged my husband to come to my rescue again.  I told him there was an animal in the house and he had to come.  Had to.  He started to laugh and somehow sign at the same time, but he got up.  
He came in and heard nothing.  He opened the cabinet under the sink, scene of the last crime, and saw nothing.  He checked under the drawer where the last offender had also lived, and saw nothing.  He hit the cabinet, and nothing moved.  He hit the cabinet harder and still nothing moved.  
He told me I was imagining things and went back to bed.  
I knew what I heard.  
I left the room to close the computer, after all, there was no way I was sitting in there by myself anymore last night.  
Then, I tiptoed as well and as quietly as someone of my age and size can still do back into the kitchen, and I didn't move.  It took a few minutes, and I heard something again.
I knew I wasn't crazy.  At least not in this instance.  
I took about one tiptoe step a minute until I got the the kitchen sink.  I could hear it.  
My husband heard me trying to be stealthy, and he came back in to tell me to give up.  
I restated my case.  This time, he got out a flashlight.  We opened the cabinet again.  In the back of the cabinet under the sink is a big hole, larger than a softball, where someone who has no real know how of anything construction related tried to cut a hole for the pipes.  The hole goes all the way into the sub floor and makes a great little hiding spot.  That was where we found him.  My animal was a tiny field mouse.  He was little and gray, and freaked me the hell out.
I started backing away, but not slowly all while yelping "I told you!"
The field mouse was stuck to a sticky trap we had left in there from the last time.  He was still very much alive, though.  After a lot of poking fun at me, and a little bit of discussion about how the mouse needed to go or I was, he ask for the cheapest set of long barbecue tongs we had.  I didn't even flinch.  I told there where they were, because they were located in close proximity to the now diseased cabinet, and nearly started to cry.  Not for the animal, but because I knew he was going to carry that thing though my house, and I was terrified he would try to torture me with it.  
Instead, he got a bag, got the mouse out, and carried the whole thing outside.  I have no idea where he put it, or what he did with it from there, and i don't want to know.  
The tongs are in the trash, where they will stay.
I just can't handle the mice.

Today, I will be going out for more traps, lots of bleach, and new BBQ tongs.  It will take a long time before I can open that cabinet again, without flinching instinctively   I will be checking for scratching sounds for days when I first walk into the kitchen.  Ugg..

I suppose, if there is any upside to this at all, after all the cleaning today, my kitchen will be sparkling clean, even if it will all smell like bleach.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teaching Our Children To Stand Up To The Man

There are days when I am definitely My Father's Daughter.  Granted, I am always biologically his, but some days, I act just like him as well.  My Father is a grouchy, mean old man, whom I love.  He taught me a lot of things.  Some good.  Some my mother doesn't appreciate.  One of the best lessons he ever taught me, though, is to stand up for what you believe in, no matter what or to whom.  He taught me that elected officials put their pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us, and their door, or email inbox, should always be open to us.
Right now, I am going through the process of trying to get the great city of Chattanooga to change a city code that will disqualify many of our recently retired veterans from serving as police officers or fire fighters.  Basically, to be employed for either, you mist be totally through training and hired before you turn 40.  When a person enters the military at 18, they can retire 20 years later at the age of 38, possibly very closed to 39.  The hiring process is very long, often taking up to, or even longer than a year for police officers.  That means, you will be 39, pushing 40, by the time you are even approved for a police academy.  Then, you have to wait for an academy to start.  In all that time, most recent retirees will age out of eligibility, since the training itself take yet another 5 months, and you must be done before you turn 40.  I find it absurd that the city would toss aside so many people who would be invaluable to them in either department.  Turing 40 doesn't mean you can't still be a vital member of the police department.  Far from it.   In fact, with the experience that many people walk away from the military with, they would only make the police department better for it.  Where else are you going to find so many people who are completely prepared to make tough decisions under extreme pressure?  They are generally all very familiar with small arms, something a police officer needs to be very comfortable with.  I could go on, and on about how their experience would be beneficial to the department, but I think it is really very obvious.  They would make great police officers, especially those who have any military police training.
However, this city code will preclude so many of them from being up to get into the department on such a tight time frame.
So, I want it changed.
I also have a special drive for this because it does affect my family directly.  I don't want to go into that right now, but I think you can figure it out.

I've already started contacting the mayor and City Council members.  I've started a petition that I plan on taking to a council meeting as soon as I have enough signatures.  Please, sign it.  Sign it.  Share it.  Send it to anyone you know.

As a side goal in this whole process, and something that gets me all worked up in a good way, I want to involve my children.  I want them to watch their mom in action and see that anyone can try to change the way things are run.  "We the people.." isn't just in our governing documents for great literary effect.  It is there because regardless as to how they make us feel sometimes, we need to remember that we elect people.  We should drive policy, not the policy makers themselves.  I want my girls to see it, and feel it.  I want them to stand up for what they believe in, and work to change what they don't.

I want my Girl Scout troop to participate with me, too.  I want them to sit in on the council meetings that I go to.  I want them to watch me speak, and learn that they can do anything and be anything they want to.

This is one time where my dad taught me everything just right.  Thanks, Dad, and I promise to pass the lesson on to the best of my ability.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

It Is Not Stage Fright

The Biggest One and I have been sick.  Really sick.  We had the flu.  It was u-g-l-y.  I really felt that needed spelling out.  It was that bad.  Anyway, while neither of us were really back to full strength yet, I thought it was time she went back to school today, especially since today was Girl Scouts and she had a music performance.  It may have been a tad too soon.
Apparently, when she was standing on the stage today practicing, she got very sweaty, started seeing black spots, turned super pale, and couldn't see well.  She started to pass out.  They made her sit down, and then go to the nurse.  I'm not sure what caused it, but I can bet she just didn't have enough fluids today, and over exerted herself her first day back.  Anyway, The nurse, who is really very sweet, listens carefully to The Biggest One about what happened.  This is my girl who tonight, on stage in front of everyone, shimmied while she sang when no one else was really dancing, sang so loud that another child turned to her and told her that everyone could hear her, who gave the best show of the evening on her own, just because of her enthusiasm   If you know her, you know exactly what I mean.  She is a ham.  A showman though and though.  Straight drama runs though her blood.  So, the nice nurse listens to her, sweetly, then proceeds to tell her that it was just stage fright, and that often causes people to feint.
Say what?
Stage fright.
No.  Not her.
I burst out laughing.
The sad thing is, again if you know her, or have read about her with me before you know where we are about to go, she believed it.  She came home and told me she had stage fright.  I tried to reason with her.  I tried to explain that she had anything but stage fright, but since The Nurse told her, it must be true.  I finally got her to see reason when I told her it was possible she locked her knees.  I explained how lots of people feint because of that.  She thought that could have been possible.  However, she still felt it could have been stage fright.
So, we went, and she shimmied and sang.  She begged to the the example and come to the mic every time the music teacher ask a question.  She was all over it tonight, without ever batting an eye.

At the end of the performance, we get her and start walking out.  We talk.  I tell her how great she was, and discuss the program for a minute.  Then, we get in the truck.  The moment we were all belted, I stopped, looked at her, and ask "Now, do you think, you who sang the loudest and danced the most, that you still have stage fright?"  This time, she laughed.  She knew it definitely wasn't that, and remembered how much she loves being in front of people.  I can't believe she ever forgot it.
So, no, it wasn't stage fright.  She may need more rest, and I'll be forcing more water down her, but I'm sure we can put at least that bit to bed, for now.

Friday, February 1, 2013

You Have Value As A Mom

In all my time as an organizer of a moms group, I learned a lot.
Right now, one of the most valuable lessons for me personally, and one that I am struggling with myself, is that being a mom doesn't mean you are just a mom, you have value no matter who you are and what you do, or don't do.
When people would request to join our group, they are required to fill out a profile sheet of a few questions. The first thing on the list is an introduction.  It can be simple, but we do request that you actually put something about themselves.  So many times, women would come in and their introduction would read something like "Hi.  I'm Jane Doe, and before I was a Mom, I was a ...." It wasn't simple a way to let us know their interest.  It was as though they needed to let us know that they did something before becoming a mom, that with out that, they weren't a valid person.
I realized, after talking to so many moms over the years, that we so often lose ourselves when we become a mom, and forget how important we are.
When you become a mom, everything changes, especially if you quit the work force to stay home with your children.  When you do that, you lose touch with so many people, and what could easily be called "the outside world", meaning anything outside your home, or the scope of what revolves around your child.  Your day to day life is determined by the child's needs and schedule, not what you necessarily want.  If you let it, it can become very overwhelming to find your life so turned on it's ear.  Especially because, though you are raising a child, probably keeping the home, and all that, you often don't feel that you make a real contribution.  Your life feels like an endless cycle of the same thing.  It's like the old Dunkin Donuts commercial, and every day you wake to make the donuts, except your feeding the baby, changing the baby, cleaning the house, making lunches in the morning, etc.

For me, when we moved, I left everything behind.  I had a great moms group I ran.  I had a Girl Scout Troop I loved.  I had friends that are really more like family.  I loved the area.  I could go on, but I might cry.  So, I find myself back in that position, as if I were a new mom, just at home, with the baby.  I live by her schedule again, and end up cooking, cleaning ,and doing those kinds of things all day.  Part of me hates it.

The thing is, even if what you are doing is just feeding the baby, changing her, etc, you are making a contribution that is more than you can possible understand in that tired moment.  You have a job, though often a thankless one.  You are the toilet paper fairy, the dinner fairy, and every other fairy that makes things seem to magically happen for everyone else in your home.  You are the reason it goes on.  Without you, the house wouldn't run, the baby wouldn't be happy, and life would be even more chaos than it already is.
So, don't feel like you aren't making a contribution, because you are.  You will get your own outside life back.  Search online for groups of moms that you can hang out with, with baby.  Take her to the park and hang out.  Take her shopping and play with her.  Enjoy this moment because it won't last long.  There will be a day when you aren't needed at home in the same way anymore.   There will be a day when you long for the moments where you were "just" taking care of things inside.
Until, know that your contribution is invaluable.
You are awesome.
You are a mom, and there are few jobs in this world as hard and yet as wonderful and rewarding as that.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I Am The Car Lane Jackhole

School pick up and drop off are never, ever fun for me.  Even if it means getting the kids out of the house after a long winter break where they have been fighting with each other since the moment I picked them up at the start of break, I still don't look forward to taking them back.  It isn't just because I will miss them, which I will, but it's because I hate the actual pick up drop off process immensely  and it causes me great anxiety.
The school, which I am slowly learning to love, is a pretty good about most things, but they are very particular about pickup and drop off.  They want any parent not using the bus to use the car rider lane for pickup and drop off, and they strongly discourage walking your child in or personally picking your child up unless there is a special reason to do so.  We get notes about it all the time.  We are not even allowed down the halls in the morning.  We are to go no where near the class rooms.  They say it is all for safety reasons.
Ok.  I can live with that idea, though I'm not exactly sure how letting the kids go by themselves, without adult supervision, is much safer, but I am trying to get with the program.  I think for the most part, it is just a huge change from CA schools, and I'm not handling the change too well.  In CA, the schools were outdoor schools, more like shopping malls with no interior hall ways, and you just walked right up to the classroom door.  Here, the school is much more traditional with a main entryway, then hallways going left right, or to the back.  Also, the parking lot is honestly terrible.  You park on a lower level and have to walk across the road (the pickup/drop lane really not so much a real road) to get into the school.  So in that regard, it is much safer to just drop them off than walk through all the cars trying to drop off in the mornings.

Regardless, I hate it.

Aside from it being different, the reason that I hate it would be that we suck at the process.  We do.  I know it may sound odd to say that I suck at dropping my kids off at school, but trust me, we do.
I am that parent who always, nearly every single day, holds up the line, doesn't move when the other cars do, etc.  I screw up the whole thing.  Even the crossing guard lady gets confused and irritated with me sometimes.  She has to hold the walkers crossing the lane while the cars move, but I take so long, she starts letting them through, but just as soon as she has given up on me, and starts letting them through, I'm ready to move, and now were all holding up the line of traffic.  Yes.  It's like that nearly every single morning.  The only hope I have of not screwing up traffic is to be in the back of the line, giving me more time before all the other cars go.
I know you must think I'm nuts, I mean, how long can it take to get the kids out.  Currently, all of The Girls are in some sort of car seat or booster.  Even The Biggest One, at 9, has yet to hit the hundred pound limit of her booster.  So, I make her sit in it.  It is safer, until she outgrows it.  Middie is a in an extended use 5-point harness, which she still can't buckle on her own.  Of course, The Littlest One is still rear facing at 21 months, now that the official recommendation from the American Pediatric Board is a two year minimum, in a 5-point harness, which she will keep for a long time yet.
So, how does having kids in seats that make us suck?  We are the only parents who do that, as far as I can tell.  Middie, in all honestly, usually can buckle her self, unless she is wearing a coat (No discussions about coats and car seats now, thanks.  I'll be glad to post about that later.)  The problem here is that she is super, duper, maddeningly slow.  The kid moves at a crawl.  Two years ago, I gave her The Pokey Little Puppy for Christmas because I tell her all the time she is my Pokey Little Puppy.  This year, I got her The Pokey Little Puppy's Christmas.  You may note that means the theme lasted for more than a year, as she has always been, and will probably always be the slowest kid ever.  She just can't do quickly.  She dawdles.  You get it.  So, getting her out of the car, or into it is painful.  Someone has to assist to get the process moving, or she won't move.  Right now, we have a system down.  As we are shifting in to the drop off position, I tell the girls to get ready.  On the word "Go", The Biggest One unbuckles, opens her door, jumps out, runs around the front of the truck to her sister's side.  While she is running around, I unbuckle, turn behind me, and unbuckle Middie.  We get her arms out of the straps, too.  By this time, The Biggest One gets her door open, and grabs Middie's back pack, so it won't be in the way or an issue.  Trust me, if I let Middie get her own backpack, we would be there until lunch time every single day.
This is generally the point that I realize break lights are going off in front of me, and the line is getting ready to move.  I start yelling "Go! Go! Go!"  Middie takes a moment to stand, get her grip on the truck, and finally, jumps out. At this point, The Biggest One starts yelling, "The Door!  Shut the door!" as Middie has yet to do so.  It takes a moment, but she eventually gets it shut.  The Biggest One starts handing over the backpack.  I do not allow Middie to put the backpack on for the sake of time.  She must simply hold it by a strap until she is near in the front doors of the school, if there is time.  If not, she can carry it like that to class.  That saves several minutes.  Once the hand over is made, they clear the the car, and I can see them both on the sidewalk, I can start rolling.
If we are at the very back of the line, I make it just in time sometimes.  If not, I screw everything up.  I'm sure there are parents yelling at me.  Always.
Pick up is a little better.  We are in a double line for that, with a sign that has our child's name on it in the windshield.  Someone comes walking down the middle of the rows, calling out names for each car.  As soon as they call The Big Girls, I unlock the doors, jump out, run around, and wait on Middie.  The Biggest One always gets to the car and gets in quickly. As soon as I see Middie sort of plodding her way toward me, I start yelling "Backpack off!  Backpack off!"  Sometimes she has it slid off so that I can grab it when she gets to me, sometimes she doesn't and I have to slide it off as quickly as I can.  Her door is already open.  I pick her up, put her in, strap her in as fast as possible, and run back around to the driver's door.  I jump in and a immediately put the car in drive so that I can roll while I buckle myself up.  WE don't usually hold up the line as badly this way, unless of course Middies doesn't hear her name, and she has to be called twice, or I am the first or second car in my row.  The bad thing here is that I'm not just holding up a few cars in one line, like in the morning.  They won't get any other kids started until both lanes have finished moving all the loaded kids out, and have empty cars.  So, if we take too long, I'm holding up like 16 cars or a so at a time, plus all the people waiting behind them.  Its awesome.

I have to wonder how many times I have gotten the finger, been called ugly names by people running late for work, etc.  I;m sure it happens.  I don't, though, ever get mad.  On the off chance that one of them has a bad day, and holds up the line, I just go wit the flow and totally get it.

I don't expect this to change for a while, either.  I don't plan on changing the car seat situation in our car anytime soon.  I'm happiest when they are safest, regardless and what other, possibly finger waving, people in in front of or behind may think.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Annual Cookie Plea

So, every year since I think I started blogging, I have blogged about the woes, and sometimes the highs, of the Girl Scout cookie selling process, all the while, really hoping that someone will jump up, feel the strong pull of the spirit of giving, and contact me asking to help out.  I fully expect to share a woe filled post later, as I am again being the cookie mom for my brand new troop, of all most all new kids and parents who are scared to death of selling cookies.  However, I'm not here to cry, yet.  I'm here to get rid of the thin veil usually covering my plea, and just come right out and beg.

If anyone who reads this would like to help out our troop, I have a great, tax deductible  way to do so.  This year, brand new to our Council, is a program called Building A Mountain of Hope.  It is a long and rather confusing name for a program that is really pretty great, and simple.  You can purchase a box of cookies that we will donate to the Tennessee National Guard.  The Guard can then send them to their troops who are deployed over seas or use them for Disaster Relief, etc.  I think it is awesome, and nearly as great as Operation Thin Mint back in San Diego.  Nearly.
Anyway, if anyone would like to support my troop, and Girl Scouts in general, while getting a nifty little tax deduction, please, please (see the begging) contact me.  Along with your tax receipt, I'll send you a very nifty little thank you note hand made by one of The Big Girls!
Thanks for at least reading this, and hopefully thinking about it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

When We Get Our Own House

One of the big upsides to moving, and the whole uprooting our entire lives, is that we hope to soon buy our first house.  I don't want to put the cart before the horse, or jinx ourselves in anyway, but we hope to be in a new home of our own before the next school year starts, if everything goes according to plan.  Big if, but still, that is what I am hoping for.

My husband and I have been married for twelve years, and we have always been renters.  We are renters, though, who have always dreamed of being owners.  We do dream, a lot.  We talk about what we would do to every home.  Now, I dream with The Girls, too.  I would consider myself at least a little crafty, and there are a thousand things we want to do to our own home, together.  The Biggest One and I often make trips to paint departments just to look at color samples and get more ideas for her room.  We see tons of aqua and turquoise things headed her way.  While it is true that we could have done many of these things before we buy, I don't want to put a lot of time, effort, money, and especially love into things that we may not be able to fit into her room once we actually buy.  She has a very large room right now, once the master of this house when it was fist built.  So, if we create for her room, it may mean pairing down when we move to our own house, and i don't want that.  Instead, we build ideas.  Pinterest is getting going to get a ton of pins from me in regards to ideas for each of their room, because for the first time, I actually feel like we may be close to a real dream.  
I will say I am scared, but not of being a home owner.  I realize that comes with a lot of responsibility and work, but I am totally up for that.  I'm scared of having the dream taken away from us, again.
We all want to finally find a house that we have have to make do with as home, but a real home of our own.  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Oh My Ears

After My Husband and I were married, it took a couple of months for me to move away to be with him.  He was in schools, and in between a real duty station.  So, I was waited.  When the time came, I moved to Norfolk, Virginia to be with him.  While that is closer to northern VA, and not the same as the real south, it is  still in Virginia, and it wasn't so different that I was taken aback by my surroundings.
Our next big move was to Corpus Christi, Texas.  That did bring with is some serious culture shock.  We often called it Northern Mexico.  It was different.  It wasn't bad, though, at all.  It was just an adjustment for this girl who was born and raised in small, fairly homogeneous, town in Tennessee.  That area of Texas is a little strange in the culture.  Its sort of like if the south and Mexico had a baby, they would have that region.  It is a mix of the cultures and traditions, I suppose.  So, in some ways, it still felt familiar while opening me up to a lot.
We lived in TX for a few years, and finished out his tour there.  Then, after a more short stints for school, we moved to San Diego.
Talk about culture shock.  That was it.  I'm not sure that moving to a foreign land would be that much more.  It wasn't something I was prepared for, at all.  Nothing felt familiar, and people automatically pointed out how different I was the moment I opened my mouth and spoke.  I had a southern accent, and it set people off everywhere I went.  I got grilled all the time about where I was from.  Sometimes it was uncomfortable.
The crazy thing is, compared to my home town, and most of the people I know, I have very little accent.
The longer I was away, the softer it got, too.  My friends could tell when I had been around my mom, if she had been visiting, because it would flair up a little.
I began to really work on my diction, and I hoped that it was as clear as possible.  In fact, when we first moved back here, people had a hard time understanding me.  They still do occasionally.  I spoke quickly and with little affectation, making me sound different from them.  During Girl Scout Cookie training for my parents, I had one Dad who could not understand me.  I tried to speak more slowly.  I tried to speak more clearly.  I think that made it worse.  Eventually his daughter started repeating everything for him in the typical slow southern drawl and he got it.
The thing is, the longer I am here, the more I hear myself returning to that.  It is impossible not to.  That is all my ears hear.  My brain will rewire itself again and eventually I will start sounding like that.
I am already using more colloquialisms.  The other day, at the end of a phone conversation with a CA friend, I said "Well, go on then".  When you read it, it could sound hateful, but when said in the Southern way, it is simply a way to say good bye, without any hint of ill feelings.  Its just the way they talk.  I realized when she laughed that she might have thought I was being rude, but in fact, its sort of a common phrase that I have already started to use.
I hear the girls say things all the time that amaze me, and not necessarily in a good way.  In particular, I realize that The Littlest One will have a strong southern accent.  She will probably be the only native San Diegan to speak with a southern drawl.  Already, she says "byyeeee" instead of bye.
I hope to go visit San Diego this summer, if possible.  If we do, I plan on re immersing myself in the culture there.  I want to hang out with my friends, visit Balboa Park, and do a lot of the touristy things we shun when you actually live there, but most of all, I want to just listen for a while, and soak up as much of the sound of speech as possible.