New Year's Resolutions

Ok, so I don't really do New Year's resolutions.  They are just a way of setting myself up for failure.  Really.  I am horrible about perfection.  If I don't finish something I start, perform something poorly, fail in any small (or large) way, it is truly awful for me.  I am way too hard on myself.  Honestly, I go over and over in my head that time I sent an email with poor grammar or may have misspoke at a meeting.  It's stupid but there it is.

But, I do have some things I'd like to try and accomplish.  I am simply listing them here as a way of remembering.  They are not goals, therefore if I don't finish them, or if I perform poorly at one or more, it's ok! Hey, it works for me and it's my blog so that's what I'm doing :P


  1. Do some digital scrapbooking again.  There was a time when I was a digi-scrapping fiend.  I did so many pages.  I was on creative teams, I designed.  I got Layout of the Day multiple times online.  Once I even got published in a magazine.  This time I just want to do a bit though.  I have written up a synopsis of last year for our family and I want to add pictures and make it a nice book for family.  I'm planning to post it here too.
  2. Make more freezer lunches/breakfasts.  Things like egg sandwiches, pizza rolls, etc.  Try some new recipes, save some money, have things that are easy to grab on the run.  There will be a couple happy kids as a bonus. 
  3. Decide if I want to continue as Girl Scout leader next year.  I like it and I don't.  Really, I'm just too busy for it, I think.  
  4. Do some of this .  I really should do ALL of it, as I could really use a clean/organize/declutter everywhere, but that's not realistic.  I do like organizing and purging though so I want to try to do one thing a week.  

Some things I know I'm doing this next year:

  1. Going to my brother's wedding, in Arkansas in June.
  2. Organizing the kids' activities.  I need to see what we're doing and try and fit it all in.  See where we need to let go and where we need to step up.  I think it will involve Stella & horse lessons.  Thankfully, we have a friend who is going to do the lessons for us because we've watched her horses.  Still, I need to shoe-horn that into our schedule.  Same probably with dog training lessons for Sandis & Tonks.
  3. Several running vacations.  By that I mean Brian has a race and we go along and have a mini-vacation, usually camping.  We'll be going to Moab in February.  Possibly again in March.  Probably Wyoming/South Dakota this summer again.

Things I'd like to do but probably aren't going happen:

  1. The usual - lose weight, exercise more.
  2. Vacation to the Grand Canyon.  And Toronto.
  3. Figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
  4. Actually have a clean organized house.
  5. Get all the birthday/holiday stuff done early.  Have enough spare time/cash to make gifts/cards for friends who usually only get a fond thought.

It's over

Is it really over? Hallowbirthdaymas season? Can I actually breathe a sigh of relief?

Not quite yet.  Still have my dad's birthday on Thursday.  And we didn't get a few things sent out in time for Christmas so there are some things still owed.  And the tree, decorations, presents, well, they all need to be put away.  But, the pressure is off now.  The finale has been sung, only the encores remain.

And no, I never did find my Christmas spirit this year.  I kept wanting it to come.  Hoping.  Nope, not this time.  Maybe next year.  I wasn't depressed or anything, just never got the thrill that comes with the season.  The fun of doing all the traditional things was just regular fun without that spark.  It's ok though.  The girls had enough for all of us.  Sandis has a long involved story of how she woke up at 5am because she heard the reindeer on the roof.  Then she heard Santa pulling out a chair to sit down upon to eat the snacks the left for him.  10yrs old and the magic still lives on....

New Dog

Brian and I could not decide what to get our girls for the holidays. We have some smaller gifts for them but nothing too big or earth shaking.  Things like a toy teacup pig I picked up on a whim, and on clearance, a few months back at Target and a couple Groovy Girls that were at Once Upon a Child back in September. 

The girls haven't asked for anything reasonable either.  It's either everything they see (Stella) or "I don't know" (Sandis) or else something completely inappropriate like a Nook or an iTouch (both kids.)  Hello children, I got my iTouch for my FORTIETH birthday (Brian bought it with his fantasy football winnings - isn't that sweet :)  My Nook I got this year with the birthday money from my parents and in-laws combined with the gift card I won in the summer library reading program.  Brian has neither device.  Kids, guess what?  1) we aren't handing one of these to you for existing at ages 10 & 8 and 2) I've seen how you take care of things by strewing them about your room and stepping on them.  Electronics don't hold up well to that kind of care.

Combine that with the fact that they've both recently had birthdays where they both received loads of gifts and cash & neither has outgrown any major item (such as a bike), and you have two stumped parents.

Soooooooo, well, Brian's friend takes dogs from Animal House out for runs and there was a dog, Zorro, that he liked.  Brian was wanting a dog he could take on longer runs with him.  You see, Sirius, our current dog, can't go more than 2.5-3miles.  Soon after we adopted him, we took him for his free vet checkup where they said that he had broken one of his back legs and it had re-healed without being set.  Because of that, when Sirius runs too much, he limps around in pain for a day or so.  Sirius would be more than willing to do that in order to go running with Brian, but we are unwilling to let him do that.  Brian regularly runs 10-30 miles in one run, hence the looking at Zorro. 

Well, Brian and I talked and talked about another dog.  I thought it would make a good family gift.  When we finally decided, we talked to the girls.  If we took the plunge and got another dog, it would be a holiday gift for the whole family.  There wouldn't be a big gift under the tree, the dog would be that.  Of course, they agreed! Another dog is the best thing EVER.  Zorro was no longer an option, he'd been adopted (yeah for Zorro!)  We told the girls that we would go look at the shelters but we would only get a dog if it was a perfect fit.  The dog had to be one that could go running with Brian, be large enough that Stella can't pick it up (she gets a bit obsessive,) be less that 3yrs old (because Sirius is 8yrs old and we'd like to not lose them both at once,) one that doesn't need clipping at a groomers, and is reasonably well behaved.  If that dog wasn't there, we would come home without a dog, no matter how cute they were (because, let's face it, they're all cute.)

We headed out on Monday to the Animal House shelter.  Closed on Mondays.  On to Larimer Humane Society.  They had 2 dogs we were interested in based on the above criteria.  Neither was anywhere close to well  behaved.  One jumped all over the girls to the point where these dog-crazy, animal-loving freaks were asking to have him be taken away.  The other ignored us completely, even ducking away from being petted so that it could jump up and look out the windows.  Bummer.  On we went to Longmont Humane Society.

There we found many dogs.  Brian added another criteria, no pit bull looking dogs.  He doesn't want people to be afraid of our dog on sight.  That narrowed our choices, but there were still 4 or 5 dogs we visited with.  We narrowed it to two, a lab mix and a doberman mix.  The dobie won out as she was obeying commands to 'sit' or 'lie down' from Stella in the visiting room, plus she knew 'heel' when Brian took her for a trial walk outside.  So, a mere 7 or 8 hours after we started, we arrived home with our new dog.

Upon arriving home, we took her and Sirius outside because, well, they might need to pee, right? She tore around the yard like greased lightning.  She was FAST! When she came in from outside she was limping.  We've experienced limping dogs before, even taken them to the vet.  Usually by morning, their twisted paw is healed.  Not so this time.  She was still refusing to put weight on it the next day.  Called a vet for our free visit after adoption, figured they could look at the paw then, sure it was just a sprain or something.  Nope.  A green-stick, spiral fracture of one of the bones in her foot.  She now has a cast and we are $300+ poorer.  Poor girl.  I told Brian it's because we named her "Tonks."  I mean, she's lived up to the clumsiness of her name-sake, did she not?

A friend did suggest small increment gift cards to multiple fun locales as a holiday gift.  I think that is a great idea that we may employ next year.  The girls would love to have their very own shopping cards, movie passes, ice-cream on-demand, etc.  And it will probably be less money than our new dog ended up costing.  Still, A dog is a gift that will be remembered and loved for many, many years.  Long after toys are forgotten and clothes are outgrown, Tonks will lie at our feet, run alongside us and greet us at the door. The best things in life are not things, and the holidays are the perfect time of year for that lesson. 

Blessed Yule to everyone!



Oh yeah, the test results

Sandis' test results came awhile back and I just found them again today when I was straightening up.  Hewitt ranks you against other homeschoolers and the national average by percentile and then gives you an overall performance, as well as many other pieces of data.  For simplicity sake, I'm only going to list those three.

                                --Percentiles--
Subject                    Hewitt National   Overall
Reading                    58      86             High
Mathematics             62      92             High
Language                  69      88             High

So, basically, she's doing just fine.  I still put very little stock in standardized testing but I was glad it was painless and she did well enough to not give anyone cause for alarm.

I'm an idiot

The word for today is:

id·i·ot/ˈidēət/ 

Noun:  A stupid person.

Synonyms: fool - imbecile - blockhead - dunce - nitwit - dolt



Today I managed to sleep in a bit, until after 9am.  The kids were up and had eaten breakfast, were happily playing with their rodents.  I had us all get ready and we headed out.  I packed boxes for about 2 hours then we were off to a therapy appointment.  So far, so good! In the restaurant drive through, after ordering, I realized, idiot that I am, I forgot to bring my purse with me.  I had my bag, in it my knitting, Nook, camera (with full battery and sd card,) pens, gps, sheets of houses to photograph, work books for the kids, etc but not my purse in which is my cell phone, iTouch, and most importantly, my debit card and money.

Idiot.

Luckily, I did have a pay check from the boxing/shipping job so I went to the bank, deposited some and cashed out some so I was able to feed the children and put gas in the car.  Woohoo, a win! We then proceeded to do some houses after which it was back to the boxing/shipping job to finish up.  We got done there and headed home, arriving around 5pm, a good 1/2 an hour before I had to leave for OWL.  Not bad!

Still, I was not done being an idiot.

Brian called soon after we arrived home and asked if he needed to pick Sandis up from Girl Scouts.  FUCK!!!! I totally forgot about Girl Scouts.  And this after the Secret Santa gift exchange fiasco.  Not to mention I HATE when people don't show up to things they've committed to
 

 

What an idiot I am! I am so angry with myself.  Ok, more disappointed with myself.  I can't believe I forgot.  I don't forget things like this! I called the GS leader right away and left a message about what an idiot I am and apologizing.  Thankfully, Sandis isn't upset at all about it.

Idiot.

The Happiest of Holidays?





December is an evil, evil month. It is the month where everyone and every group feels they need to celebrate. And when they celebrate, they need to invite everyone. This leads to approximately 367X the number of events, parties, invitations, craft extravaganzas, shows, performances and general mayhem than normal.

I try to participate in some of the mayhem. The kids like it. I like it. Of course, due to necessity, and sanity, we have to pick and choose. We cannot do it all. You saw the parody of my pared down list in a previous post. Read it again, I dare you. Then feel with me the exasperation when someone, on Friday, suggests that we do a kid's gift exchange, on Wednesday.

I politely explained my harried schedule and said that we couldn't possibly do it. She acquiesced
momentarily. Then came back with how the children should decide if they want to do it, not accepting that the children would need adult help. Not accepting doing it at a later date to give people time. Not accepting, period.

I had explained my position politely. I solicited other's opinions, ones who had seen the emails and ones who had not. All thought I was being polite and reasonable. I tried to ignore it all even as I was sent more emails, from both her and her child full of insinuations and guilt-trips. Really? This is how we get what we want these days? I understand that you want to do something, something fun, but you can't delay that fun for a month? You can't understand that others have things to do in their lives? You have to force your event/fun/whathaveyou on other people? Is THAT what Christmas is about?!

NO! That is not what Christmas is about. In our house, it is about sharing with those we love, giving to those less fortunate and celebrating the return of the sun. We talk about all of the religions who have chosen to celebrate this time of year. This is what the holiday season is really about. Family, fun, love.

I have to go back to our first UU principle too, "The inherent worth and dignity of every person." I need to remember that this principle applies to ME too. I need to be able to say "no" and have it mean no. I have a right to be treated as a person worthy of respect too.

And now, with that settled (or not), I need to get ready for that Girl Scout meeting. But not until I fix the Christmas tree that my lovely children knocked over this morning. Yes, after all my pets, after two toddlers, the 8 & 10 year olds fighting over something they can't even remember anymore are the ones to first knock over our tree. That's ok, I needed more stress in my life right now, right?

RIP Danger Mouse

Stella is a girl who loves all living things. She will sit and hold a newborn baby for hours, get excited over petting a dog, be sad when she finds a dead roly poly in the basement. Today was especially tough on her because her pet mouse, Danger Mouse, passed away.

Danger Mouse and Penfold were given to us by fellow homeschoolers who needed to pare down their pet collection. I acquired the two little mice as birthday presents, in advance, for the girls. They saw the pictures online before the mice arrived and Stella immediately liked the white and gray one, Sandis the black with white one. As it turned out, Danger Mouse was the one Stella chose.

Danger Mouse was the perfect little pet for Stella. When Stella opened the cage, Danger would run to the open cage door and climb right out on Stella's hand. She would perch on Stella's glasses and tuck herself under Stella's collars. Danger Mouse and Stella were bosom buddies.

This morning, Stella came running in to my room frantic because Danger Mouse was "chattering her teeth and pushing her head against my hand and now her legs won't work!" Stella was sobbing hysterically, trying to get dressed so we could go to the vet, yelling at me to call a vet and holding poor little Danger Mouse.

I started calling vets. First one, doesn't do little pets, try these. Tried one of those, they aren't in on Saturday. Tried another, vet on duty doesn't do mice, try this one. That one said, well, we'll look at her but we don't really do that and it will be $120 minimum, try this one. That one was the winner.

AspenWing in Loveland was able to get her in for an appointment in 40min. They cautioned that if it was a stroke or seizures, as I thought, that they could give her medicine and IV fluids, but there might not be much they could do. I assured them that I knew there wasn't a whole lot they could do but Stella was so upset I wanted the mouse to see the vet. We got ready and headed over with Danger Mouse, who was regaining some movement in her legs. I thought maybe she would pull through. Then, while sitting in the waiting room, Danger had another seizure, much larger than the first. The assistant rushed her back but before the vet could even look at her, she had passed away.

The vet said there was nothing else we could have done, nothing we did caused this, it just happens sometimes. They brought her back in a little box with a rag in it, all tucked in like a bed. They also made Stella a little heart ornament with "Danger Mouse" and her foot prints on it. They didn't charge us a cent.

None of this was any consolation to Stella who sobbed uncontrollably for at least an hour. She was pretty sad a long time after, only recently being able to talk and laugh about things like normal. She said some pretty profound things today such as, "It only hurts the one who's dying for a little while and then they are dead, but the people who are left hurt for a long, long time" and "My life will never be the same as it was before Danger Mouse was in it." There was also talk of how long before the spirit leaves a body and what color the spirit might be (for the record, for Danger Mouse, it is two minutes and pink.)

I'm sure we will have a new mouse soon, as Penfold will need a friend. The new one won't be Danger Mouse, but I'm sure she will be very loved.

Nuttin' for Christmas

Yeah, I'm pretty sure if you don't live under this roof or happen to be in the MUUMs stocking exchange, you'll be getting nothing for Christmas this year from me. I have negative time to do things. Really. Life has become crazier and crazier this month to the point where it's now 30min away from Dec 10th and I haven't even considered gifts. Don't even speak to me of cards.

I am currently working 3 jobs. Yes, that's right, three. I have the Miramont which is my part-time housekeeping work, mostly evenings. I have this through the 22nd as I've given notice. I have the packaging work which is ~3 hrs, 3 times a week or so. This work is basically between 10am and 3pm. I should only have another week to go on this one as the crazy Christmas rush should die down after that. Finally, I have my newest job, taking pictures of houses for insurance companies. This work is anytime during daylight hours, except Sundays. This one is permanent. I can make about twice as much money as at the Miramont AND set my own hours AND the kids can come along. Yes, choosing between the two was a no brainer.

In addition to the jobs, this weekend we have a play we saw tonight, 2 choir performances (Saturday and Sunday), Brian's race (Saturday), Ornament Afternoon (attending and working, Sunday), get 7 things for the aforementioned stocking exchange (Saturday? Sunday?) and picking up Healthy Kids Run swag (Saturday.) We're hoping to set up our tree Saturday night. BTW, the tree's name is Aaron Arbor aka Bob.

Monday is Options for the kids, some packaging work for me then over to Options to see Stella's Reader's Theater (for which she needs to wear all black, so I'll have to find all black) and help with Spanish class. That night is the Options program. Tuesday I have to run a Girl Scout meeting, which I've yet to think about, at my house, which is currently trashed. And I have to work at Miramont that night. And I should try and put in a couple hours at the shipping job too.

I refuse to think beyond Tuesday at this point.

So when on earth am I supposed to find time to purchase, wrap, pack and ship presents? Not to mention our boxes that we send out to family and friends. The boxes are a kind of history of our family over the past year. We get small things which symbolize what we've done and write up a letter about all the fun things. For instance, one entry could be a postcard from Arches National Park which would symbolize our trip there last March. These boxes are wonderful and meaningful and I love them, but again, I haven't even begun to think about them. Often times finding the trinkets to symbolize parts of our year a tricky to find. One year I wanted toy snakes for something or other and not a single toy snake could be found in northern Colorado.

And teacher's gifts, OY! Their last day before break for quasi-school is this Monday which means all gifts must be done by, well, Monday. When can I do that in the next two days? Did I mention we don't have piles of extra cash floating around so I have to be creative and make something, which takes time.

I love my life and all the things I'm doing, I just need an extra day or two shoved in there so I can accomplish all the extras that December brings. That's all I ask, an extra day. Please?

Stella's Banner Day



Stella summed her day up saying, "my first high heels and my first pocket knife all in one day!" I'm more worried about Stel killing herself in the heels (though they are short and wide.) Brian's not too sure about her having her very own knife. We'll see how both pan out....

The 2nd two weeks

The second half of Stella's first month on meds hasn't been nearly as smooth as the first. She is doing much, much better than before she was medicated. Still, there have been some frustrating incidences where she's been screaming at us over things that are, really, inconsequential. Sometimes it's been after a long day. Once it was because Brian didn't make sure she took her meds (I was at work, he told her too but didn't make sure it happened. Live and learn.) Other times it's simply she doesn't want to do what she needs to do, like clean her room. It's never long lasting like before, and it's mostly yelling rather than hitting, and often she apologizes afterward, all of which is a huge improvement.

Still, I find I'm debating whether or not we should up the dosage. We go down to the psych center on Wednesday where we'll be reviewing how things are going. At the last meeting the PA did say that we could up the dosage if there was still anger going on. Stella is doing *so* much better, still, I think we may need a bit more help.

After we get the Prozac figured out, then we have to think about adding ADHD meds to the mix. It seems so crazy to be medicating an eight year old to begin with, let alone giving her two different meds. Still, if she can be a happier, healthier person with medication, why should I deny her that? I know *I* am a happier, healthier person with my meds. And I'm not doing this for my benefit, so she's "easier" for me. I'm not doing this so that she can sit in a classroom. It's so she can be who she really is instead of that person being crippled by anxiety, depression and hyperactivity.

Double Digits

Today Sandis is 10 years old and she's been waiting for this for years. Why? Well, 10 is her favorite number (just like Monk, she says.)

Sandis is my quiet, reflective, artistic, bookworm. She loves soccer, dogs and the color blue, not necessarily in that order. For the latter two, the love has existed since before she could speak. She's not a girly girl but that doesn't mean she's not all girl. And my girl. My first born. The child that made me a mother. I love you, babe, happy birthday :)

Spam that you actually want



There actually is one kind of Spam that you want to see. It's not in your inbox and you can't pick it up at the grocery store. This kind of Spam comes all the way from Broadway....

This weekend we finally got to celebrate Brian's birthday that was way back in August. Or rather, we got to use the tickets I had gotten him for his birthday. Yep, Saturday night we saw Spamalot. It received rave reviews for a reason, it was awesome! All the iconic parts of the Holy Grail were in there along with new material that really made it stand out. The actors did an amazing job with it. It was a riot of laughter start to finish.

The actor who played Lancelot had the best roles in the musical. Not only was he Lancelot, who is gay and has his own dance number, but he also played the King of the Knights Who Say Ni, Tim the Enchantor and the taunting French soldier. How much more fun could you have as an actor?

My only regret is that we didn't get tickets for the kids. Well, not a true regret as I enjoyed having a night out with my husband, and it would have doubled the price of the show, which was high, but the kids sure would have loved it. Sandis truly loves that type of humor. She thinks Princess Bride, Airplane and Space Balls are hilarious. Stella would have enjoyed the singing and dancing, though probably missed a lot of the jokes. Maybe it will tour again some time when we are older and richer :)


The Knights Who Say Ni

And now, for you Monty Python fans, some quotes to make you smile:
  • Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?
  • Oh, king eh? Very nice. And how'd you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers. By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society.
  • Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government.
  • you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.
  • What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
  • Follow. But. Follow only if ye be men of valour, for the entrance to this cave is guarded by a creature so foul, so cruel that no man yet has fought with it and lived. Bones of full fifty men lie strewn about its lair. So, brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth.
  • Bring out yer dead.
  • I'm French. Why do you think I have this outrageous accent, you silly king?
  • I didn't know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.
  • There are some who call me... Tim?
  • NONE SHALL PASS.
  • In Mercia and the two Anglias – plague, with a 50% chance of pestilence and famine coming out of the Northwest at twelve miles per hour.
  • God, the almighty and all-knowing, has misplaced a cup?

Rest needed

I need a break. A break from life. A vacation from responsibility. I want something that realistically isn't going to happen anytime soon. But I do need to slow down a bit. Things are crazy busy and not in a good way for my health.

You see, this week I decided that December isn't a wacky enough month for us and I picked up a couple of side jobs. Just a few hours here and there doing some shipping work for an overworked mom who runs her own educational toy/game business (very cool stuff, check it out - if you are local, you can get free shipping by arranging to get stuff from me) and helping someone dust and do windows in preparation for holiday guests. Doing this led to a Tuesday that involved getting me & the kids up at 7:30am (we don't get up at 7:30am), getting ready, being across town to work from 9-11am. Then a quick bite to eat and dropped the kids at a birthday party at noon, ran over to work from 12:30-2:30. Back to pick the kids up at 3pm, finally get out of there and home by 4pm, just in time to get ready and go to work from 5-9pm.

By the time I got to work at 5pm, I was having tell-tale signs that my busy day was a really bad idea. I had muscle weakness, extreme fatigue (not tired/sleepy - fatigue), shakiness that I could feel inside and crankiness. Did I mention that eating was optional on Tuesday? Yeah, that didn't help much either. It felt like a hangover from a fight-or-flight response. It was a small dose of chronic fatigue. The chronic fatigue that I had for 2 years and don't want back.

I need to slow down. I can't do so much. I have to rest. It's hard because I want to do all these fun things. I like being involved and giving of my time, I don't want to give anything up. Except work, but I can't give that up, sadly. But I. MUST. have. breaks. If I don't, I may be back to only being able to choose one thing to do over a couple days, and that thing may be a super exciting trip to the grocery store.

This afternoon my shipping work was canceled so I took a nap (which Stella claims I do, or try to do, "every day" - fat chance!) Tomorrow I get to sleep in. I am going to rest more. Not take on any new responsibilities. Make sure I don't need to drop any current ones. Re-evaluate and tweak my life so that it works for me again. I have to do what I can to make certain that I can continue on the way I want to.

I'm crafty but not duplicitous

This year I'm doing a holiday countdown to December 25th with little gifts for the kids. Often this is called an Advent calendar and it counts down to Christmas. But we don't observe Advent, and if we did, we would have started on the 4th Sunday before Christmas and counted down to December 25th. What we're doing is a small gift for each day from Dec 1st-24th. And we're only doing it because I saw this cute craft idea where you sew the little gifts into brown paper and then hang them from a string garland. I thought, "that's cute and fun and will be totally easy!" Which, of course, it is, but you still have to have TIME. And not just regular time but time WITHOUT CHILDREN. Oh yeah, that. I'm pretty sure that sort of time is mythical.

Anyway, I collected up some little gifts. There are plastic snakes, marbles, little notebooks, etc. I completely avoided candy - yeah me! I then completely slacked on collecting up any brown paper bags. They just don't grow on trees anymore, you know? I could have sewed up our reusable bags but that would have 1) been a tough gift to open and 2) ruined all our bags.

The solution - thrift store picture book. I used the pages of a book that had lovely pictures but a trite storyline as wrapping for the gifts. Here they all are:



After sewing up the gifts, I then took some tags I had and sewed them on by hand. Sandis did the dates for me:




Then came a small problem. In the process of avoiding candy, some of the little gifts became a wee bit heavy for a garland. I switched tactics and put them in this lovely Santa tin that I found at the thrift store for <$2. Perfect!



That concludes today's adventures in crafting. Stay tuned as there will be more crafting this week at Ornament Afternoon!

Thankful for dogs

I don't write as much about Sandis, and really I should, so this is dedicated to her.

Every Thanksgiving, or actually anytime you ask Sandis what she's thankful for, she will say dogs. The kid loves dogs. Basically since birth and the love has only grown with time.



Very young Sandis loving Nikki, her first dog. Yes, Nikki actually
DID like it and would go lie next to the baby to be mauled.


A bit older, not much wiser Sandis with another kid-loving Basset.


And she doesn't simply love our dogs. Oh no, all dogs are on her radar. Big dogs, small dogs, black dogs, brown dogs, cute dogs, ugly dogs...well, she'll say there are no ugly dogs. Not even these dogs that won the ugliest dog contests. She says it's their personality that matters. Who can argue with that?

And it's not just live dogs, though she does point out each one she sees, noting its breed. No siree. Dog art, dog books, stuffed toy dogs, dog figurines, dog cartoons, dog ??? they are all loved by Sandis. They are all squealingly cute. Brian claims she would even think dog poop is cute (which Sandis vehemently denies.)


Never without at least 1 stuffed dog wherever she
goes. (Blackmail too - look, she's wearing a dress!)



Here she is with a mountain of dogs, a couple of cats
and a reindeer

Sandis loves going to the vet, visiting the humane society, and doing community service projects for dogs. Not just because she's helping dogs but because sometime in the course of events she will get to see more dogs. I'm surprised she doesn't have a journal where she notes each and every dog she's ever seen.

Now this week we are babysitting 2 dogs in our home as well as another friend's dog at their house. While some may see this as a burden, an extra thing to do in an already busy week, to Sandis, it's a dream come true! What could be better than THREE extra dogs! (yes, 4, 5, 831 extra dogs would be better, but this is pretty damn good.)

Sandis has made the dogs' happiness her sole responsibility. For the ones at our house, she makes sure they each get equal numbers of pets, that she plays with them outside and in, they only eat their own food and more. For the one we visit, she goes outside with him to watch him play with sticks. She is sure he gets his treat when we're leaving. Lectures us on what he likes and doesn't, which stick is his favorite, explains to him why he can't bring his 4' long stick inside.

When she grows up, Sandis is planning to open a dog sanctuary, on the ocean, where she will adopt all the dogs that would otherwise be killed in shelters. She's going to do this after she travels to New York to visit Percy Jackson, of course :) She's chosen California over Florida for her ocean front canine villa because "there are too many mosquitoes in Florida." Good plan.


Optimist or Pessimist



When presented with the question, "is the glass half empty or half full?" and told about the conundrum that this question presents, Stella replies, "well, it's half full of water and half full of air, so it's completely full."

Touche my dear.

Sometimes it's better to receive

Sometimes it's better to receive than to give. At least when what you receive is this from your daughter:

Thanksgiving!



Thanksgiving is a simple day for us. It's just us. No additional friends or family coming over. No driving to visit anyone. It's a nice break from the hustle and bustle of our normal days.

We do go out though. In the morning, we do the Thanksgiving day 4 mile run in Ft Collins. Ok, Brian does the running, the girls and I walk. I don't know that we've ever done the full 4 miles either. There are various unofficial short cuts along the route. Today, with a whining 9 yr old and an 8 yr old with a sore ankle, we took the Loomis loop shortcut, meaning we walked 2 miles, not four. That's kind of how it goes most years.

Our meal is fairly simple too. No worrying about making Aunt Clara's casserole and Grandma Shirley's jello concoction. Brian does the cooking, as always. So, sometime after football we eat a dinner which generally includes turkey cooked on the grill, hubbard squash and some sort of dessert. There is always other things too, but it varies year to year. Some roasted vegetables, baked sweet potatoes (without that nasty marshmallow crap), cranberry sauce (not that gel from a can either, shudder) and stuffing often make an appearance. This year it was corn w/peppers and onions, stuffing and mashed potatoes.

This year wasn't as simple in that we have 2 extra dogs staying with us as well as a house/barn full (dog, cat, 6 horses, pony and various chickens) to watch. But honestly, I don't mind watching pets, it's kind of fun. And the girls are totally THRILLED to be able to play with extra animals. Stella has decided she likes horses now (add them to cats, dogs, chickens, lizards, pigs and a cow on the list of pets she wants.) She also has been the official "chicken checker" when we go over. Sandis spends all her time with the dog. She's not quite sure about the horses. Not. At. All. She stands waaaayyyy outside the fences and watches us give them their hay.

Of course, we should be thinking of what we are thankful of on this day rather than rambling, right? Now I'm just tired from getting up early and can't really think straight, but I can come up with a few things.

I'm thankful for/that:
  • My family - Brian and the girls
  • Being able to homeschool and having the girls love it
  • My many, many friends :)
  • Actually having a job
  • Having a husband who has a job
  • we can stop hearing about Black Friday after tomorrow
  • it is finally time to put up winter holiday decorations tomorrow so I can stop bitching about seeing them all over the place.
  • Stella has a med that suits her
  • It's not summer
  • Diet Dr. Pepper, Jubelale and Gingerbread Lattes
  • Pharmacology
  • Books
  • Chocolate
  • The Packers and the fact they are still undefeated
  • I get to sleep in tomorrow ;)
Stella's new meds are working fabulously. In fact, just in the last 1/2 hour, she yelled at me and then in the next breath said, "I'm sorry for yelling but it frustrates me when you ask me to do one thing and then when I'm not even done yet, tell me something else to do." Um, wow?

Now, a side effect of her removed depression/anxiety is that her ADHD is running rampant. We just went to the thrift, craft and dollar stores looking for cookie cutters for the upcoming Ornament Afternoon. She was a whirling dervish, but in a good way? She was skipping about, talking non-stop about everything under the sun, while breaking a creamer, asking for 20,925 things and generally being Stella. "Mommy, mommy, mommy," (because one "mommy" is never enough,"can I get this or this and this and I need this and isn't this cute and look at this and Sandis might like this and the dog is black and I like raisins and look at this!" This diatribe continued for approximately, well, the entire afternoon.

Along with this is her OVER love of the dogs staying with us this week and the dog/cat/horses/pony/chickens we are watching at their house. She doesn't do anything wrong, per se, just her general enthusiasm is a bit much for non-humans (or humans, really.)

This new version of Stella, which is the REAL Stella, is much easier to take than the one that rages for 12 hrs a day. Still though, it wears a person out. Thankfully, Jubelale is out for the season and will make my evening much more pleasant :)

Just a quote. By Gatto.

You have surely noticed me mentioning Gatto before. If not, well, maybe you weren't paying attention? Just for you, the one who was gazing out the window daydreaming the solution to world peace, or maybe just wondering if you should eat that last donut, when you were supposed to be reading my blog, I think Gatto is brilliant. He has insights into the system of public education in our country that are a major reason why I don't want my children in school. Read any of his books and you'll see why too. You may not agree with him 100%, but you will see that he has some good points.

And today, I came across this quote that Home Education Magazine posted on their Facebook status:

"I've come to believe that genius is an exceedingly common human quality, probably natural to most of us... I began to wonder, reluctantly, whether it was possible that being in school itself was what was dumbing them down. Was it possible I had been hired not to enlarge children's power, but to diminish it? That seemed crazy on the face of it, but slowly I began to realize that the bells and the confinement, the crazy sequences, the age-segregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to *prevent* children from learning how to think and act, to coax them into addiction and dependent behavior." ~ John Taylor Gatto

And that is why my children aren't in school
Stella's new meds seem to be helping her this week. The low-down:

  • She's had less incidences of anger and they are certainly lasting less time. In other words, not all day. Not even long enough, usually, to get her sent to her room to cool off.
  • She's doing less physical lashing out during her outbursts. Still yelling, but not so much hitting and kicking.
  • She's also done her school work without whining and carrying on for hours.

I've noticed the difference. Sandis has noticed too (as the recipient of the most of Stella's physical anger, this is good.) Brian says he hasn't been yelled at all week. And Stella says she thinks she's doing less hitting but still a lot of yelling. Fingers crossed that this isn't just a "good week" and that her medication is actually working for her. We go back for a follow up next Wednesday so we'll have some more time to see if this is really working or just a fluke.

As a side note, Wednesday was a word that's spelling perplexed Sandis on her PASS test. She got that question wrong (no, I didn't change it.) I still have to say Wed-Nes-Day to myself to spell it correctly so if a 9 yr old gets it wrong, that's ok :)

Mailed away......

We completed the PASS testing on Wednesday, whew, lol! Another year and a half until we have to do this again. Actually, even though I don't like doing it, it was pretty painless. It only took 3 sessions of her sitting down and working on it. She liked doing it, thought it was easy. I looked over some of the answers before we sent it off, she was doing pretty well so I'm sure we'll make that 14th percentile cutoff ;)

Put it in the mail on Thursday afternoon. Not sure when we'll get the results but I won't be on the edge of my seat waiting. Neither will she seeing as how it's already outside of her realm of thought. Not only that, I doubt she will care what the results are once they do arrive. Her only other test was the Greek/Roman Mythology exam, and she only cared about that one because she got a medal (for scoring 93+%, I believe.) No medals with this one, so I'm sure it matters not at all :)

1 in 4

1 in 4 women take mental health meds. I find this completely and totally unsurprising. For so many reasons.

  • First, we've always thought women were crazy. Hurricanes were named after women because? Right, because they are crazy and unpredictable. Even if that isn't 100% true, certainly that's what the common collective thinks. Everyone knows Hysteria is craziness with the root hyster(o) coming from the Greek word, hystéra, which means womb. The misogyny goes on and on but that's enough examples for today lest we become more depressed than we already are.



    • Second, there's isolation we deal with. Today we do everything ourselves. Women have trouble breastfeeding. Why? Because they've never seen it done. Never seen a group of women of multiple generations showing how things work. Helping each other out. Helping new and old get through this time with support and love. And that's just the beginning of that baby's life. The start of millions of tiny and not-so-tiny decisions, each of which is the key to happiness and fulfillment (or so we think.) As soon as we make a decision, we're second guessed, by ourselves or others. Or some new technology or study emerges to tell us we've done it all wrong. AHHH!!!

      Then we each sit run around crazily in our houses and cook a meal for our family, with food we've each gone and purchased by ourselves, while out running errands that we all have to do but each of us does ourselves. How much easier would life be if the 10 families who lived around you all shared these tasks? You cooked 1 meal in 10. Someone took all the library books back. Two people did all the week's shopping together.

      But instead our family lives next to other families who we don't even know. If we need help, we rarely ask. When we do, it's seen as a sign of weakness. We are supposed to be able to do it all, do it all well, and be happy about it!


    • And media, of course, has done its part too. Objectification in the media is nothing new. We've added dismemberment to the mix more recently. An excerpt:


      Extensive research has demonstrated the negative results of female objectification in the media. Depression, appearance anxiety, body shame, sexual dysfunction, and eating disorders are only a few among the growing list of repercussions (Fredrickson & Noll, 1997). In addition to the objectification of women, the media commits another assault on the dignity of women. This assault is the dismemberment of women, and it has not received the attention it deserves (Kilbourne, 2002)


    • And do we even need to mention environmental toxins? They are within us and around us every day. From plastics to heavy metals to pesticides. And you can try to avoid them but how? Eat organic but the shopping center sprays their weeds. And you drove there in your car that uses gasoline, and you breathed those fumes as you filled it up. And that organic produce goes into a plastic bag. Maybe a reusable one, but still basically plastic. You went with cloth? Is it organic cotton? Unbleached? Without the chemical sizing that kept the fabric stiff for the initial sewing? How do they power the lights in that store? With sustainable practices or the general electricity that burns fossil fuels? And, of course, you have to have a job, and a good one, to afford to buy the more expensive produce. What kind of things are you exposed to there? And on the way there? I think it's basically impossible to avoid completely.


    So is it any wonder that we turn to drugs to help us cope?

    Now, all that said, I rely on my meds. I've written about this before but for those who don't know or didn't read that post, I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. Maybe that's triggered by the isolation, the pressure to be perfect, the environmental toxins or a million other things, but it is there. And to survive, yes, survive, I need to take medication. Drugs. Sad state of affairs? Maybe. Reality? Surely.

    So no, I don't find it surprising in the least that 1 in 4 women are on meds. I find it admirable that 75% of us are doing so well.

Six words

Today I'd like to explore the six word epitaph. You've probably head of it since it's a book, been on NPR, is across the internet. If not, click on that link back there and you'll see what it's all about.

I was thinking that I would like to try to see if I could sum up my existence in six words. Then I thought about summing up just parts of my life in six words. It's not easy, but, then again, it does cut to the heart of the matter pretty quickly.

Life:
Worked too hard, should have quit.
Learned to love, loved with abandon.
Too many books, not enough time.
Sandis, Stella. These are my triumphs.
Headache this big. Excedrin not working.

Homeschool:
Not enough structure, too much structure.
Learning, yelling, fun, experiments, writing, reading.
Meaningless testing over, back to fun.

Seasons:
Autumn is best, Halloween its jewel
Crunchy leaves, orange pumpkins, smiling children
Hot, irritating, sweaty, grouchy is summer

Kids:
Stella, "I named my butt Piper."
Wanted more. Body, husband said no.
They love and annoy each other.
TV sucks them in. Turned off.

I'll add more tomorrow. For now I'm off to bed to read. After all, there are too many books and not enough time ;)

Monday Mingle



I'm trying to blog every day this month. I'm kind of sucking at the NaNoWriMo thing, so I'm doing NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month.) Better at it but still not perfect.

BUT, I have nothing to say today. Kids went to quasi-school, I visited with friends and then worked on holiday gifts. After all that excitement, I went to work. Oh how engrossing...not!

So, I saw that Eighty MPH Mom does a Monday Mingle. Answer 3 questions, post the link, blah, blah, blah. As you know from previous posts, I like to answer random questions in list format so here we go:


1. What are your Top 3 Pet Peeves?

  • people who don't have common courtesy (they cut in line, throw trash on the ground, don't show up to things, etc)
  • improper grammar, even my own
  • patriarchal oppression of women, especially when it's "subtle"

Kind of more then pet peeves? Yeah, probably. Little things don't bother me too much. I don't care which way you hang the toilet paper or if you drink right from the milk bottle. Life's too short to worry about those kinds of things.

2. Do you lose your temper easily?

No, but when I do, watch out! I am a Scorpio, after all ;)

3. What is the biggest cooking disaster that has happened to you?

I don't do most of the cooking, Brian does. I do suck at breads involving yeast. I can't ever get those damn things to rise.

If you want to play along, click on the picture above. These are technically last week's questions, but there aren't any for today and these seemed like perfectly lovely questions that were just begging to be answered ;)

42 and counting...

Today I am 42 years old. Forty was a tough one for me. You see none of my relatives have lived past 80, so I was 1/2 way through my life. Half. Way. Through. My. Life. That's huge. You think you should have accomplished something by that point. Be stable in a job. That you love. Or at least like. Have enough money to not be living paycheck-to-paycheck. Little things like that :P

Compound those thoughts with a husband who when you turned 39 started teaching your children to call you "old." Yes, he thinks he's funny. No, it didn't make turning 40 very easy for me.

Now, at 42, I still don't have enough money (the same place there) or know what I want to be when I grow up (same thing there too, huh) but I've come to terms with it enough that it doesn't depress me. I thought for today, I'd do something easy and just list 42 random things about me in completely random order:

  1. I'm an introvert. INFJ, if you must know :)
  2. I'm eating french toast for breakfast because you get whatever you want for breakfast and dinner on your birthday. Brian and Stella are making it for me (and everyone.) Tonight we'll have Shepard's pie
  3. We shop for "new" things almost entirely at thrift stores and garage sales. I love sifting through everything to find the gems. The kid prefer it too. As Stella said, "I like to have the shirt or whatever that there's only 1 of. At Target there's like 20 of each one." Plus it's cheaper that way. We can't always buy used though, and certainly don't for underwear or socks.
  4. I love autumn and Halloween. You can see posts about these obsessions in September and October.
  5. I'm a worrier.
  6. I love books. I love to read. I could spend all day reading and it wouldn't be a wasted day at all.
  7. If I take time to "do nothing" I feel lazy.
  8. I am a Unitarian Universalist, and have been for most of my adult life, but I didn't discover that I was until 2004. It was then I started attending Foothills UU Church.
  9. I'm a free-range parent and always have been, before I knew there was a name for what I was doing.
  10. I had the same thing with Attachment Parenting. That's what I was doing with my kids and then I realized there was a name for it. Seems I do things and then find my group?
  11. I like the Green Bay Packers and have since I was a little girl. Other teams I support include the Colorado Avalanche, Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, Wisconsin Badgers and CSU Rams.
  12. I used to tailgate for 4 hours before every home CSU football game and several hours afterward. We always traveled to WYO and AF games but also saw the team play at Nebraska(L) and Michigan State(W). The most exciting was the 42-41 win over AF in 2006, a game where the Rams scored 28 unanswered points in the 4th quarter alone.
  13. I love my iPod Touch. If it was the new version, it would be the perfect device because it would include a camera. Still, it hooks up to free wi-fi allowing me to use the internet pretty much whenever I want without paying a single dime in monthly fees (which a smart phone would charge.)
  14. I have a master's degree in entomology from CSU. I decided I wanted to go back to school and bugs seemed cool. Yeah, it was that thought out.
  15. I really enjoy FaceBook as a way to connect with people. I get to see a small window into my friends' lives. My friends both far and near. I'm able to stay close that way and not lose people. It's so much easier for them (or me) to say something to everyone then to try and call or email individual people. People may say it's a time sink, but to me, it's time I enjoy spending so it's "me time." And I don't care that it's public either. Really, I don't count on anything said on FB to be private in anyway. Same for this blog. Or YahooGroups. Or various forums. They aren't private.
  16. I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Ideas include: researching insect vectors, women's studies, vet or vet assistant, teaching, counseling, some sort of home creative business, photography. I wish I could decide and move forward but I really can't figure it out!!!!
  17. My favorite color is green.
  18. My favorite animal is the red panda.
  19. I have been to Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Canada.
  20. If I was rich, I'd have a million bags. I love purses and bags and can never find the exact right one.
  21. I've had thyroid surgery, a hysterectomy and knee surgery twice. I've also been hospitalized one other time, besides the surgeries and not including Sandis' birth.
  22. I had extreme chronic fatigue for almost 2 years. So bad I couldn't walk around a grocery store without having to rest for a day and a half. I didn't return the cart to the corral because it cost me too much. I think that CFS has been with me through out my life and will continue to be, waxing and waning, reminding me to not over do things. But my hope is that it is never that bad ever again.
  23. Stella was born at home. On purpose. Because of how the hospital treated Sandis' birth as a medical event, even with a midwife and doula. I knew I could do it and I did. Not only that, but my friend who attended to care for Sandis (who was there for her sister's birth), said that I was incredibly calm and quiet. I did it, and I did it well ;)
  24. I nursed my kids until they were 3 yrs 9mo and 4yrs 1mo. Sandis self-weaned, Stella I had to wean due to health reasons. It still makes me sad that I had to do that, even knowing that it was the best choice :(
  25. I learned how to and played ice hockey as an adult. I love, love, LOVE playing hockey. It it totally and completely the coolest game on earth.
  26. I have owned the following pets in my life: dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, various fish, mice, rats, parakeets, pacman frog, other frogs, various lizards, various snakes, turtle, ferrets, spiders, praying mantises and a cool metallic ground beetle. I kind of like everything :)
  27. My favorite radio station is KBCO 97.3 which plays alternative.
  28. My favorite bands are Barenaked Ladies, Steven Page, They Might Be Giants, and The Who with honorable mention going to Sheryl Crow.
  29. Favorite TV shows have been ER, Boston Legal, Arrested Development, Weeds, Breaking Bad and Big Love.
  30. Favorite movies are The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Usual Suspects and Pulp Fiction.
  31. My favorite coffee drink is a gingerbread latte.
  32. My favorite alcoholic drink is a Deschutes Jubelale.
  33. I really want a family vacation to a deserted beach where we can stay in a small cabin and play in tide pools. And another one to DC. And yet another to Germany. Anyone want to contribute to that fund? :P
  34. I'm dyslexic, had 2 lazy eyes and have such poor vision that at 18mo old I had glasses and they were trifocals.
  35. One thing I don't mind about aging is the gray hairs. They actual add some depth to the blah color of my hair.
  36. I have no trouble with public speaking. I have even been told that I am good at it :)
  37. I've been told I'm a good writer as well.
  38. I have a lot of depression with just a bit of mania. And when I get manic, I love to shop, but never can find anything I want to buy - so I do ok with it.
  39. I really enjoy organizing things like closets and homeschool schedules.
  40. I wish I could move to Wisconsin. I love it here, I love the people here, but that will always be home.
  41. I'm a creative person. I can sense when things look right. I love that part of me. But I can't make that part of me into a career because then it will be work instead of fun.
  42. I didn't truly discover my feminine side until after my second girl was born. Now I embrace it where before I wished it didn't even exist.

Whew! I made it to 42! That took quite awhile. Hopefully you've made it to the end :) I'm sure there are many, many more things about me I could have shared but those are the first 42 that I though of. If you'd like to know something I missed, ask in the comments!

Testing, 1, 2, 3

As per the law in this state, I am testing my child with a standardized test. We have to test at the end of odd-numbered grades or have an independent evaluation done (yes, I'm a bit late.) Of course, the test need only cover reading, language and math, all other subjects being unimportant. And they only have to score above the 14th percentile. So, it is incredibly meaningful information.

We are using the PASS test. Mostly because friends have used it and said they liked it. But also because 1) it is untimed and 2) it has a placement test so they aren't being tested beyond (or beneath) their ability.

Now I must say that I do not like standardized testing. Why? Well, I don't think they really show what someone knows. I think seeing what they can do makes more sense that filling in circles. I think there is more to learning than reading, language and math. I think teaching to the test is wrong. They say it well here. An excerpt:

    The U.S. is the only economically advanced nation to rely heavily on multiple-choice tests. Other nations use performance-based assessment where students are evaluated on the basis of real work such as essays, projects and activities. Ironically, because these nations do not focus on teaching to multiple-choice tests, they even score higher than U.S. students on those kinds of tests.

And, of course, Alfie Kohn has much to say on the topic. He's even written a whole book on the topic.

So, naturally, my kids love the test. Sandis did the placement and wanted to do ALL the rest TODAY. Stella is jealous she doesn't get to fill in circles so I'm letting her do the placement test too. For crying out loud, what's up with them?! I guess it's the novelty of the thing. Plus, they don't realize that tests can mean pressure to perform. Crazy kids.

Hearts & Horses

Today the Brownie Girl Scouts went to Hearts & Horses for a field trip because the girls all wanted to do stuff with animals. I thought seeing animals helping would be a great thing for them to learn and see. And it certainly was!

The tour was amazing. Mostly because it wasn't a scripted tour or even much of a tour at all. Instead, a woman who works there took us around the complex and showed us what they were doing that day. In the process, they got to meet both horses and humans and see both in action. There were people with disabilities doing some riding. Volunteers were feeding and cleaning. A veterinarian and her students were working on a horse's cut and later floating a horse's teeth (which is taking a giant version of your dentist's drill and grinding off spurs on the horse's teeth.) Everyone was so friendly, it was like a family there. The Girl Scouts seemed to be immediately enveloped into the family and were introduced to the people who came to ride and even helped out giving the horses their lunch.

They are going to have a winter show at Hearts & Horses with people of all abilities riding in it. The girls are quite keen to see that so another trip there may be in our future :)

All the girls carrying a flake of hay to one of the horses:


Getting the flake into the feeder, without having the horse eat it all before it got there:


Watching the vet floating the horse's teeth:

Try, try again

Our second trip to the Denver psychiatrist commenced today. Well, actually, we only see a Physician's Assistant (PA), but still, they are the ones with the magic notepads that dispense pharmaceuticals, so we'll take it. Nothing definitive happened, that's for sure. The scales we filled out for anxiety, depression and ADHD don't show us much. She's not typical for anything - not surprising to those that know her. The kid isn't typical whether it be for a disorder, getting dressed, working out a problem...she's her own self.

The reaction to the last medication was telling, however. To try and treat ADHD with a stimulant when there is underlying anxiety will make the symptoms we're seeing 10X worse. Ah, that explains the raging demon we had living with us for awhile.

To treat the anxiety, we have to move on to Prozac. A bit scary, daunting, worrisome, insertyourfavoritedescriptivewordhere for mom. Still, I will do it. I need to know if this can help. I can't go on letting her scream and rage, hit and kick. If it was just to me, that would be different but I'm so afraid she's going to alienate her sister. Not to mention that she feels like shit about all of this too. Being that out of control isn't exactly a fun way of life. In the 10min after we left the appointment, she had yelled at her sister no less than 3 times, shoved her, argued with me, poked her sister, hit her sister repeatedly and called both of us names. Yes this was when we were leaving the building, getting in the car and driving less than a block to the gas station. We won't even continue on to lunch and beyond, it's just too bleak. The girl needs something to help her.

Her regular therapist thinks she may just be a stubborn, willful child who wants her own way all the time. Let's hope that's not the case because if it is, there is no drug that will help her. Or us.

All my fault

It is all my fault that Stella is hungry.

First, I wouldn't buy her food while we were out at the dentist despite the numerous restaurants in the vicinity. Horrible bitch that I am, I said we had food at home.

Once home, Stella was heating up her lunch. It is one of those nasty banquet lunch things that the kids think are the bee's knees. To make one you have to heat, remove plastic, stir, replace plastic, heat again. She did the heating part. She was otherwise occupied so I did the rest, leaving it to finish heating. She then removed it from the microwave and dumped it all over. This is my fault because I didn't tell her I'd removed the plastic at the corner. Apparently where the plastic film is removed is key. Who knew? (Apparently, I should have known. I am omnipotent, didn't you know?)

It is also my fault that she cannot possibly eat any other thing in our house.

Feel free to rant and scream at me, Stella does. It is most obvious that I have failed as a mother, caretaker and human being.

Just wait until I make her do school work in a bit. Oh, the horror that will be unleashed will be worthy of a scene from a B-rated zombie flick. I'm sure that torture technique classes visit homeschoolers to see how to make their victims lives a living hell. They could probably get some pointers from the aforementioned lunch scenario too (at minimum, those banquet lunches - after a few of those, anyone would relent.)

At least I have to work tonight, which means in 3 short hours, I will get to escape from these walls to a place where my actions are more dictated (maybe) but at least no one yells at me there.

Meet the new week....

...same as the old week.



Yes, now that Stella's birthday is behind us, it's time to get back into our regular week. Things change but they pretty much stay the same. We're busy and trying to not be. This week's schedule:
  • Monday - quasi school (where we didn't sell any f'in' butter braids. Seriously, $12 for a family sized danish? People pay that? I'm sorry I'm not supporting student council, really I am. I like to do things for everything my kids are involved in. But I hate selling anything and this seemed ridiculous.)
  • Monday night - work for me
  • Tuesday - school at home, dentist appt for girls
  • Tuesday night - work for me, group therapy for girls
  • Wednesday - psych appt in Denver, therapy appt in FtC, Girl Scouts for Sandis
  • Wednesday night - teach OWL for me, library raptor program for the girls (and Brian)
  • Thursday - Girl Scout field trip, Rhythmic Movement appt for Stella, hopefully some school
  • Thursday night - Brian goes running, nothing for us???
  • Friday - school and nothing else
  • Friday night - work for me, another Girl Scout field trip
  • Saturday - teach OWL for me
  • Sunday - choir practice for Stella
Then it starts all over again on Monday. I feel like a rodent on a wheel, and I have several who will demonstrate wheel-running process for me if I falter. The following week is better, but only because Girl Scouts and therapy are only twice a month.

I wish we could drop, um, well, EVERYTHING and just stay home. Forever. Won't happen though. Stella has to have therapy. I have to work (it's a money thing, not a Iwanttodoitallandstillbeagreatmom thing.) The girls love Girl Scouts more than anything else. sigh. Someday, I'll have a slow, peaceful life. Probably my next life. Maybe. If I'm lucky. Which I'm not. Fuck. I guess I'll take solace in the fact that soccer is over and that's 3 less things on the schedule each week. That's as good as it gets around here.

Happy Birthday!!!



Happy, happy birthday to Stella! My second born child lives life her way and to the fullest. She knows what she wants and doesn't stop until she gets it. She can give the best hugs in the universe. Her eyes are amazing blue. She has a sense of style that has no match. Happy birthday not-so-baby girl, I love you more than life itself.

(PS. the pig is because she loves pigs. She will squeal like one when she sees this post, guaranteed.)

First attempt --> Fail

Well, Stella's first drug attempt was a HUGE FAIL. If anything, her temper and sleep have been WORSE since she started taking her ADHD meds. I stopped giving them to her on Thursday, coincidentally, the same day she did Rhythmic Movement with Adele. She had a better day on Friday. I don't know if it's the lack of meds, the addition of movement or just a random good day. We'll be heading back down to the psychiatrist next Wednesday and have another Rhythmic Movement session on Thursday. We'll see what the future holds.

As I become older...

...I become less perfect. Or care less about being perfect, maybe. I do my best to do everything that is my life but certain things, like cleaning the house, fall through the cracks. I've found my standards have become lower and lower as I age. Today, for instance, someone is coming over and all I've done is:
  • pick up visible clutter, well, mostly
  • vacuum
  • sweep
  • clean bathroom, well, mostly. Damn kids and their toothpaste! Do they really need cavity free teeth that badly?
  • close doors of really horrible rooms
There are still dishes to be done, kids' things scattered about, blankets on all the furniture, piles of mail on the counter. Not to mention the dust and the Halloween decorations are still up. Well, the dust could count as Halloween decorations, right?

I wish I cared more, cared enough to make it a priority but I just don't. I never have and surely never will. I can only become more comfortable with my squalor and resign myself to it. You can come to my house and feel better about your own. That is the person I've become.

Have you forgotten your meds?

I take various meds and supplements. Don't worry, my doctor knows about, prescribed and pretty much insists I take them. For the curious, on the list are T3, T3/T4, Effexor, Zyrtec, D3 and B12. Today I realized that I had forgotten my meds when a song came on the radio that I liked. I was singing along (obviously, I was alone) when it hit me that this song was popular when I was in college. This meant the song was some 25 yrs old. A quarter of a century. And it seemed like yesterday. That made me cry. Yep, I'd forgotten my meds.

In case you have these issues, here's a handy list so you know when you've forgotten your meds:
  1. You cry because you like a song that's 25yrs old
  2. You cry because Linkedin sent you an email and would like to recognize the good work you do. And you don't even use Linkedin
  3. You cease to worry about anything that you need to do in the future. None of that matters. You don't care about your daughter's birthday prep or Christmas gifts or anything of that nature.
  4. You cry because of a moderately sad story you read on someone else's facebook feed.
  5. You have a headache. Just a small one at the temples.
  6. You cry when you remember when your oldest was a toddler taking music class and how cute she was and now she's half grown.
  7. You can't remember if you ate anything that day.
  8. You realize that you did, but only because your 7yr old made you a grilled cheese. (yes, said 7yr old practically begged to make it for you, however, it's after 4pm and you are over 40 yrs old and you haven't fed yourself anything all day.)
  9. You cry because you're not really into the book you're currently reading and you don't want go to the library for another one right now.
  10. You realize the day is mostly gone and can't remember what you did. Ok, can't blame that one on the missing meds.
Don't even ask what happens if I don't take them multiple days. Oh. my. Bob. It is awful. I ran out waiting for the fucking mail order company to get them to me once (they had 3, yes THREE, weeks to get them to me before I ran out. They took four and a half weeks.) I had a headache, fuzzy thinking, nausea when I ate or was in any position besides lying down and not reading, chest pains, hard time breathing. I was a mess. Never, ever, ever again will I not take Effexor for more than 1 day. It is a crazy, nasty drug. But when I take it, it does work. And it works better for me than Zoloft was doing.

And don't even think about telling me to get out in the sun and take a walk and I'll feel better. Yeah, without the drugs, I wouldn't even go outside. Seriously. I have a chemical problem in my brain. The drugs take the edge off, they don't cure me. Some of those things might work for mild depression, but they aren't going to work for me. If you think they do, then you don't understand what I have gone through and continue to go through. I read once that to say your depressed when you are sad is like saying you are starving when you are simply hungry. Think of it that way. You haven't experienced starving if you think one meal can fix things.

The Nightmare Before Christmas



I realized the other day that this movie (my favorite of all time, by the way) can cure any bad day.

It had been a hellish day of screaming, hitting, kicking, screeching and general malcontent (none of those by me, thankyouverymuch.) There was and is no cure for Stellaism and some days just have to be borne.

Still, late afternoon, they asked to watch the Nightmare Before Christmas and I said, "YES!!!" before they could even finish forming the words. Why? Because then they will sit, eyes focused on the glowing screen, becoming zombies sucked inside the world that is not their own. Is it a good thing? Hmmmmmm..... At that moment, I say yes. Generally, not so much. But I needed the aforementioned crap to END and this would do it.

And end it did. They were mesmerized. But, it also had the unexpected side effect of taking me to a happy place. The music, the story, the beautifully done artwork that is the sets and characters, it all took me to a state where I was smiling. Even thinking about it now, I'm smiling. All through work that night I was smiling and humming the songs.

It was magical. I may try it again some time. I don't think it will work every day, for many reasons. But that day it did, and I am thankful.

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I am not Type A, not by a long shot. Still, I like lists. Well, lists of trivia. Lists of trivia about people I know. You know the ones. You used to get them via email. Then on Facebook. Now, they are on blogs too. A friend did this on her blog and since I love them, I'm following suit. So here we go.....

______________________________

FOR TODAY (tonight)

Outside my window...the sliver of a moon is beautiful as are the millions of stars. Oh how I love the night.

I am thinking...I wish my child would go get her clothes for tomorrow by herself. And should I write about pumpkin carving night on my blog even though I have no pictures?

I am thankful...that my kids have their quasi school tomorrow and I will get a break.

In the kitchen...pumpkins have recently been carved and are sitting on the table :)

I am wearing...my Dr. Doofenshmirtz costume including crazy mad scientist hair and purple under-eye liner

I am creating...nothing at the moment. I've been browsing ponchos over on Ravelry so I can start something new tomorrow.

I am going...to bed soon then I can read my book, hopefully in peace.

I am wondering...what I want to be when I grow up.

I am reading...The Princes of Ireland and Cinderella ate my Daughter

I am hoping...that either the psychiatrist's meds, rhythmic movement or some combination will provide some relief for Stella's anger

I am looking forward to...Halloween tomorrow :)

I am hearing...Danger Mouse, the cartoon, not the pet in the bedroom

Around the house...there are clothes, books, crafts, papers and more that need to be PUT AWAY!

I am pondering...when I will make that quilt for Brian's Grandmother. How on earth I am going to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Did you know that November is the day after tomorrow? True story.

One of my favorite things...yarn :)

A few plans for the rest of the week: Halloween organ concert, work, class at ELC, TMBG concert, play date(s), soccer tournament, church auction, rhythmic movement appt, Stella's birthday

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...I spend too much time sleeping, apparently, but I will not give it up. Nope, not happening.



______________________________

If you would like to do this too, head over here.

Family Traditions

We are entering the season of family traditions. We have ones that span the year, of course, but most of them do tend to fall in the Hallowbirthdaymas season. I thought I'd just list them out so I could see that we really do have family traditions in amongst all the endless running about.

September:
  • Buckhorn - our church's yearly retreat. Friday night-Sunday afternoon in the mountains with peace, solitude and friends.

October:
  • Miller Farms - we have to go to the gleaning each year or the kids would revolt!
  • Pumpkin carving night at church - often called one of the UU High Holy Days
  • Halloween Organ Concert at CSU - after trick-or-treating, spooky music. It's wonderful.

November:
I think this month is open. We do have 2 birthdays and T'giving, but nothing else really

December:
  • Holiday Craft Extravaganza - at our church, there is an afternoon where kids race about making as many of the crafts as they can before time expires. Really, you'd think 3 hrs would be enough time, but it never is.
  • Christmas Eve - we go to our church's service and then get to open 1 present before bedtime.
  • WildLights - Each year we head out to the Denver zoo to see all of the lights. There are lights in the trees, lights in the shapes of animals, whole scenes of moving lights, snowflake lights, ornament lights. We love going down every year. (Yes, they call it Zoolights now, but I've been going for almost 20 years and I will NOT change what I call it! )

January:
  • Rose Parade - I watch this every year and make the kids and Brian suffer through at least part of it with me.

February:
  • Moab - This year will be the 2nd year we've ventured to Moab for a weekend for a race. Brian runs, we enjoy the time away from home and responsibilities

Summertime:
  • camping - at least 1 week-long trip and a couple weekends in the mountains. We've been to Yellowstone, Thermopolis, Moab, South Dakota. Where will we go this year?
  • Fourth of July - Fireworks are a must!

Anytime:
  • Family night - Saturday night we rotate whose turn it is to choose what is for dinner, dessert and an activity. This is the only time, other than holidays, when we have dessert. We've gotten away from family night and we need to return. We've done fun things from making puzzles to ice skating to a movie. And if it's Sandis' turn to choose, you can bet we're having either pizza or tacos with ice cream for dessert!

Halloween and Costumes





It's hardly a secret that Halloween is my favorite holiday. Hell, it's my favorite day of the year! I love the spookiness. The goblins and ghosts. The pumpkins and gourds.

I've decorated for Halloween every year for more than 20 years. Way back when, it was hard to find Halloween decorations. I searched at multiple shops everywhere I went. I collected things up, saved them. I took care so that none of the crepe paper honeycombs were crushed. All of the decorations were slightly spooky but basically fun - like a spider with a smile or covered in glitter. A ghost that you might mistake for a friend of Casper's. A black cat with a jaunty, striped witch's hat.

Today, Halloween decorations abound. You can't swing a broomstick without hitting a store that has a Halloween aisle. But the selection has changed. You can sometimes find those "old school" decorations, but most seem to be more suitable for Halloween the Movie rather than Halloween the Holiday, which makes me sad. They've taken my ultra-fun, slightly spooky day and turned into a slasher flick, a B-movie. I've never liked those movies. They don't scare me or creep me out, they are just ridiculous. Violent and gory just to be violent and gory. And don't forget the sex. You have to have some half-clad woman to add to the mix. Bah.

And Halloween costumes, oh costumes how they have changed. Are you female? Then what sexy, trampy, whorish thing would you like to be? Oh, you're only 5? No problem, we have this (scroll down for a lovely version of a lion(?) or police woman). I'm sure this is just the Cheshire Cat that you were thinking of right? With the fish nets, a skirt, bare arms sexed up with boa trimmed fingerless gloves. No? Well, there are plenty of things to choose from that look nothing like what you had in mind. Or you can be a princess. Thank you, no.



Thankfully, my kids have figured out what they would like to be each year and we've found a way to make it work. They have only had store bought costumes when they were toddlers (a bee, ladybug, dog and cat - all of which were of the "wearing a stuffed animal" variety and second-hand.) Since then we've had Harry Potter, Hedwig, Dobby, Fluffy (or Cerberus for those who don't read HP), Jack Skellington, a devil, a spider and this year Perry the Platypus and a secret agent chihuahua. We've seen some costumes online/in stores that could have been purchased for what they had chosen. They don't want those. They LIKE to make costumes. They get to pick out the details. Sure, we've gone to thrift stores for the parts, but they get to pick out those parts and make the whole. Their costume is theirs and theirs alone. It fits their vision of who they are trying to be.


(Stella as "a girl Harry Potter" and Sandis as Jack Skellington, 2006)

And they are trying to be something they really like, not just what they saw at Target and decided to be. How they came up with it is sometimes a mystery (like the devil, where did that come from?) but it did come from them. It has nothing to do with being sexy or costing a lot of money. It's not about status. It is genuine. It is fun. It is all about who they are and who they want to be for a day. I love that, it makes Halloween all that it should be again - fun :)

(Now Sandis is Harry Potter and Stella is Dobby (with extra clothes under the pillow case tunic due to our weather), 2010)